I love to cook. However, when I get in a kitchen, my family starts to worry. I am one of those people who think more is better.
For example, my signature dish is a cheese grit soufflé, and while the recipe is quite specific, I have trouble sticking with it. I always feel there needs to be more: more Velveeta, then more cheddar, then more garlic, then more salt, then more Velveeta, until I am left with a large pot of bubbling cheese goo.
If I were cooking for a starving mouse in a North Dakota blizzard, maybe it would make sense. Otherwise, I’ve ruined a delectable work of art.
The lesson? More is not better. If only I could remember that lesson in life! Perhaps this rings true with you as well? Do you ever think:
"If I had more money in the bank, things would be better."
"If I could get one more promotion at work, life would be better."
"If I could have more vacation time, more channels on my cable service, one more pair of Air Jordans, then my entire existence would be better."
We spend our lives chasing more. Yet, the things we chase will never complete us. Like that cheese grit casserole, more in life is not necessarily better. We don’t have to add to the recipe for it to work. The recipe of life is enough. We are enough.
I am reminded of the story of Jesus’ baptism. When he comes up out of the water, the spirit descends in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven says, “This is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17.
We all yearn for those words, and when we hear them, it feels great. But sometimes we don’t hear them, and our spirit withers. It’s then that we must remember that if someone in your life doesn’t call you beloved, it’s their failing, not yours.
But hey, don’t take it from me — believe the scriptures. Look again at Jesus’ baptism. God didn't offer those healing words after Jesus had completed his ministry and was hailed as the Messiah. God offered Jesus those words before he began any of his work — before he called one disciple, preached one sermon, worked any miracles, or slapped down any demons. It was like God was saying, "It is enough. Your life is enough. You are enough."
It's the same for each of us. God whispers those affirming words to us long before our resume gets written. We are beloved not because of what we do, but because of who we are as children of God.
It’s too bad that the story doesn’t end there. Tragically, those holy whispers tend to get shouted down by the evils of the world. We are surrounded by voices that tell us we’re not enough, that we’re lesser than. And, for many, those negative voices are amped up to a deafening decibel level.
Think about our brothers and sisters who are called lesser than based on race, sexuality, gender, or nationality. Or those who are deemed undeserving based on labels such as “immigrant.” Or those who endure hatred and violence because they worship differently. Who could forget the appalling images coming out of New Zealand this week? A massacre where 50 people lost their lives because a madman deemed them unworthy.
Brothers and sisters, we must stop this horrible cycle of violence, and the only way we can is by pausing and remembering who we are. When we know we are beloved, when our hearts are full, there is no room for hatred, suspicion, or bigotry. Only then can we see that whether we are black, white, brown, Methodist, or Muslim, we are all beloved children in whom God is well-pleased.
This week, before you start your day, before you tackle anything on your to-do list, take a moment and listen. If you pay attention in those early hours, God's whisper — God’s affirmation of your worth — will surely ring clear:
It is enough. You are enough. You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased.
— A trial lawyer turned stand-up comedian and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is the senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City and the author of Laugh Your Way to Grace. Contact her through her email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or her website, www.SusanSparks.com.