The Grace of Not Being Wonderful


I was making breakfast, cracking the eggs into the battered somewhat-non-stick skillet, and trying to balance it on the old electric burner so that the eggs wouldn’t run into each other too much. Attempting to flip them without breaking the yolks so I could deliver them to The Man & The Girl in perfect, over-medium glory, since The Boy had already left on his choir trip to Holiday World.

The title cut was playing from The Water and the Blood, and I was thinking about how strange the lyrics must seem to someone who isn’t a follower of Jesus. How deeply they contrast with the “you’re perfect exactly as you are” chorus of the media zeitgeist these days.

“Lord we confess our many faults, and how great our guilt has been,

foolish and vain were all of our thoughts, no good could come from within,

but by the mercy of our God, all of our hopes begin, 

and by the water and the blood, our souls are washed from sin,

our souls are washed…”

There’s something comforting about not having to convince yourself you’re wonderful. There’s a massive relief in not having to convince the world that you’re wonderful.

I think that a lot of soul-sick people have twisted that basic understanding, that we’re naturally kind of screwed up messes. Instead of being a truth that lets us off the hook, allowing us to rest in the grace that we’re loved, wonderful or not; it becomes a whip attempting to beat us into working harder for a reprieve we’ve already been given.

There is a universe of difference between “I confess my many faults, how great my guilt has been” and “You need to confess your many faults, how great your guilt should be.”

It breaks my heart that so many broken people have beaten down others with the latter.

But as a person who continually struggles with the desperate need to convince myself and everyone around me how wonderful I am, knowing that I’m not that wonderful is a blessed relief. It’s the doorway from self-conscious preoccupation and scrambling into the peace and equanimity of letting my soul rest in the goodness of Someone else.

My prayer for you, reader friends, is that you experience the freedom to enjoy not being wonderful today.


  1. ·

    Early in my life I mistook other people’s jealousy and criticism as a personal failing because I believed the judgment to be true. As I got older I became defiant. I am now mature enough to understand that it isn’t about me, it’s about the other person, and I pity them for their narrow world views.

    It has taken me a long time to mostly accept myself for who I am. Everyone has parts that they don’t like about themselves. That doesn’t mean we’re abject failures, it just means we all need to be more understanding with ourselves. Once we are able to appreciate ourselves we can spread that kindness into the world.

  2. Kat French

    “Everyone has parts that they don’t like about themselves.”

    I think that’s the meat of what I’m getting at–that the honest thing to do is admit exactly that, and stop wasting energy pretending you’re some magically awesome persona. Start where you authentically are, instead of “fake it till you make it,” KWIM?

    Because what I’ve learned in almost 40 years is that it’s damn hard to stop faking it, and faking it just gets in the way of making it.


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