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Freedom in 'enough'

It’s no secret to my friends and family that decisions are not my forte. Whether it’s my degree course or my next meal, there is never an easy answer and “I don’t mind” and “I don’t know” are my trusty friends. I’m deeply aware that I’ll never please everyone, and I’ll never have enough foresight to be confident in my decisions. It’s far easier to stay perched on the fence than to decide which way to fall. And so, given my reluctance to express any preference as I stand distressed in the meal deal aisle of Tesco, I wonder if it comes as a surprise that I manage to commit to one faith in one God.

I’ve often thought of my life as a collection of boxes: friends, family, university, etc., overlapping but largely distinct, and left for me to attend to one by one. When I first tentatively began to call myself a Christian during secondary school, I added a God box. The box was there, but it was simply one box among all the others, kept contained and only opened as and when it was convenient. To put my entire life under the lid of that one box would have sounded radical, unnecessary, and in all honesty, terrifying. It would mean sacrificing what little control I held over the balance of all the other boxes, and hardly seemed the solution to my already frustrating failure to know and do enough.

But in fact, this failure, rather than a good reason to avoid such a commitment, was evidence of my need for a God who is enough. Confusingly, the word ‘enough’ often has a negative meaning today. A pass grade in an exam, though by definition enough, is always short of something higher and better; a handful of friends and a hobby are enough to keep us going, yet there are always more good causes rightly demanding attention, more CV points to be earned, more ways to fill our calendars. Because with each new ‘that’ll do’, we raise the bar a little higher, just beyond our reach, so that ‘enough’ is never quite good enough. And in the whirlwind of Oxford, I have found this to be ever truer and ever more exhausting.

In the last few years, though, I’ve been given a powerful answer to this frustrating spiral of insufficiency and dissatisfaction. Jesus Christ, in his saving act on the cross, is enough. The word becomes wonderfully positive when we accept that Christ is and has done enough for every one of us, once and for all. That means no more upped bars, no new expectations, and a weight off our shoulders. Christ has paid the price for my inadequacy and offers freedom in its place.

I have found true relief in the knowledge that the very one who sets the expectations meets them for me. In a world where nothing is ever enough, the claim that there is one God with a gift that satisfies and is wholly sufficient is outrageous, improbable, and yet amazingly liberating. And so, I have been challenged to do the fearful thing of independently making a decision, giving up my seat on the fence and committing to packing my life into that one God box. This has meant letting go of the constant battle to be enough, accepting that as long as I fight it alone it will always be a losing battle, but doing so in the confidence that there is a better way. I’ll never be great at decisions, I’ll never know whether the strawberry or chocolate cornetto better suits my mood, I’ll never know if a passed-up opportunity would’ve been the one to change my life. But I do know that in all the ways I can’t do or be enough, Jesus Christ can and is.

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