When You Feel Like You’re Not Enough
Scarcity is the foundational belief of our society. The idea that I don’t have enough very quickly becomes the idea that I am not enough. Not clever enough, not successful enough, not thin enough; not gifted or funny or together enough. Not a good enough friend, parent, partner, sibling. Even as I write this I’m wondering, will it be good enough? Am I good enough? We end up anxious and afraid.
What if I make a mistake? What if I fail? What if I’m rejected?
We compare and compete, thinking that more for you — more money, time, success, praise, happiness for you — means less for me. We spend our days endlessly hustling and worrying.
Will my needs get met? Will I be noticed? Does anyone care?
It’s precisely this condition of ‘not enough’ that we find in the story of the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus has been teaching the crowd all morning. At lunchtime everyone is hungry, only there’s no food and no shop in sight. So the disciples speak to Jesus about it, and here’s what he says: you feed them. He doesn’t dismiss the hunger of the crowd, but invites the disciples to participate in fulfilling it.The disciples haven’t even offered the five loaves and two fish they do have, assuming that it isn’t enough. But Jesus isn’t living with a scarcity mentality. He knows exactly what they have, and he knows that in his hands, it is enough. So when he says ‘you feed them,’ what he’s really saying is, ‘you’ve got what it takes, you’ve got enough, you are enough.’
Next, Jesus invites all the people to sit down. He provides a place of rest, creating a mini midday Sabbath for them. You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the crowd as they rest their bodies on the ground. It’s a ‘pause’ moment, as my church would say, a deliberate time out from the striving and anxiety of ordinary life.
It’s also interesting that this miracle happens in a huge crowd. Obviously, feeding thousands of people out of seemingly nothing is a bigger deal than feeding just a few! But I think there’s another layer of meaning here too. I think Jesus is pointing out that there is enough space for everyone at this picnic. He’s not going to provide for one at the expense of another. Everyone is welcome and everyone will be fed. In the rest and in the acceptance, community, rather than competition, is created.
The grassy picnic table in this story points towards another table where Jesus makes room for everyone. At the Last Supper, all the disciples were welcomed, exactly as they were: the doubters, the hot-headed, the ones who got easily confused; the gentle ones, the ones in the background that no one remembers and even the one who would betray him.
And it is at the Lord’s Supper that we are invited into this story of belonging and provision too. There’s room at the communion table for us all, just as we are. I’m free to welcome you because this is where my needs get met — my needs for acceptance and recognition, my need to be known, to belong and to matter. There’s no need for striving or competition to prove our worth here. In the broken bread and the poured out wine we are reminded that Jesus is enough, and that he says we are, too.