By Sarah Stanley
I worry a lot.
Probably too much, but nevertheless, I continue to worry. More often than not, my worries translate into feelings of inadequacy or falling short. Questions of worthiness, or “am I enough” begin flooding my mind and if I don’t recognize the pattern and warning signs, I can end up in a dark spiral--a possibility that, you guessed it, I often worry about. (I wish I were joking.)
My worrying has a tendency of translating itself into perfectionism. But even with the very best intentions behind my obsessiveness,
I find myself constantly questioning whether what I’ve done is enough.
While in graduate school there was always the question of whether I could have researched a paper a little more, studied an hour longer, pushed myself just a little further. During the job search for after graduation I found myself falling into the same spiral of feeling like I was a good candidate, but never quite good enough. And even now, while working at a job that I absolutely love, and being praised and encouraged by colleagues about the work I do, there is still that haunting echo of questions that circles my mind. Could I have prepared that service trip better? Was I clear with the expectations I put forth for my students? Was I too lenient with a late deadline? Was I lenient enough? And the list goes on and on.
I know there is famous saying “let go and let God” and I think it’s a beautiful reminder that we are never really in control, but hey, I’m human and my anxieties can get the better of me. But when I read today’s Gospel,
I was struck with feelings of comfort and encouragement as I reflected on the character of Zaccheaus and his story.
For me, Zaccheaus is a reminder of God’s inexhaustible love for us all. His story helps me to understand that there is no attachment or condition for God’s love. For God, there is no set standard of perfection that we have to reach before sharing in that love. It’s unconditional.
In the story, Zaccheaus actively seeks to see the Divine by running ahead and climbing that tree. Perhaps he too had questions of “is doing this enough?” or “could I climb higher?” Maybe he didn’t just push his was to the front of the crowd because he feared he wasn’t worthy to be notice by Jesus. As we are reminded by the other characters in the story, he is a sinner, a tax collector, and one of the last people they would expect Jesus to dine with and yet, Zacchaeus is who Christ chooses to break bread with. For Jesus there was no question of whether he was good enough or tried hard enough or climb high enough.
No matter what, he is now, has always and will always be enough in the eyes of God.
All of today’s readings are beautiful reminders of the unending love of God and the reality that there is no criteria or standard in place that makes me or you worthy enough of God’s love. There’s nothing that I can do to earn the love of God and there’s nothing I can do to decrease or eliminate that love. “For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made.”
Each reading is saturated with expressions of God’s mercy and with reminders of God’s ineffable love for each and every one of us. In Psalm 145 we read numerous expressions of that love. “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.” “The Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”
The words of hope, encouragement and compassion go on and on.
Today I find myself grateful for such stunning images of God’s love for all of Creation. And while there will certainly be future occasions where I find myself falling into a sea of worries, readings like these help to bring me back to center and to remember that I am loved unconditionally – anxieties and all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey there! I'm Sarah, a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsessed with all things Jesuit and is very passionate about faith, social justice and the intersection of the two. I'm in the third (and final!) year of earning my Master of Divinity Degree from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. When I'm not surrounded by piles of school books I enjoy travel, running, contagious laughter, clever puns and finding the good in all things.
Check out Sarah's blog at simplysarahs.blogspot.com