Merely Adequate

MVSFrom the Facebook page of Mark Van Steenwyk (right), executive director of The Center for Prophetic Imagination.

I’m working on giving myself permission to be merely adequate. Otherwise, I hold myself to a ridiculous standard that I don’t hold others to.

Part of being a white man is internalizing a message that dominance and excellence is a birthright. And that to not achieve these things means one is a failure.

Even as I’ve rejected so much about the Big Stories that animate our imperial culture, I’ve found that this impulse and expectation has remained: that I can only earn my place in this world by being amazing. Instead of living up to the American Dream, I replace it with living up to radical ideals or the kingdom of God.

But the kingdom of God isn’t something you achieve. It is something you discern.

When I’ve talked to people about how I’m trying to tell myself “maybe I’m mediocre at doing the things that matter the most to me, and that’s ok” I’ve received pushback. I get it: there is a sense in which each of us need to hear that who we are is amazing and unique.

But for me, the desire to be seen as amazing and unique is a path of narcissistic self-flagellation. It is setting myself up for deep inner-criticism. It is embracing such high expectations for myself that I’d never place on another.

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