Not Good Enough

Not Good Enough June 18, 2006

I was talking with a friend today who was telling me about her family’s recent decision to become guardians of a 16 year old boy.

The boy is the son, you see, of this friend’s adopted daughter’s birth mother (got it?). They decided to become his guardians after discovering that this young man was no longer attending school but staying home to take care of his very ill mother instead.

My friends invited Jamal to come live with them so that he could be relieved of a responsibility far too heavy for a 16 year old and so he could try to finish high school, at least.

My friend explained, “He is such a great kid. Tall, handsome, bright . . . he has so much potential. We are hoping he’ll go far with good support.”

I mentioned how laudable I thought their decision to give this kid a chance was and my friend replied, “Oh, no. I’m getting so much from him.”

She went on to tell me about a conversation her husband had with Jamal just the other night. They were talking over dinner and my friend’s husband was trying to impart to Jamal the importance of education. The husband said with enthusiasm and encouragement, “You know, Jamal, if you work hard and get an education, you can really become somebody!”

Jamal looked up from across the table and said quietly, with a large measure of conviction, “Mr. King, I already am somebody.”

After the silence that followed her telling me this story, my friend said, “You know, my whole life I have struggled with the belief that I am not good enough . . . not smart enough, not pretty enough, not accomplished enough. If only I knew at 16 what Jamal knows . . . that I already am somebody,” she said wistfully.

If only we ever really and fully believed, with even the smallest conviction, the love of our Creator, then maybe we could all say along with the Psalmist (and Jamal): “You, O God, were the one who put me together inside my mother’s womb, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do, O God, is marvelous . . . !”

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