Lots of us struggle with whether or not we're "enough." Belinda Bauman takes us to new heights on the topic.
By Belinda Bauman
I knew climbing Kilimanjaro would not be easy. When a group of soul sisters decided to take on the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro as an act of solidarity with women who suffer violence, there were no guarantees. We pressed forward with the climb as a tangible way to raise awareness for a pressing issue.
At different points along the trail, I was genuinely worried about each of my sisters. Take Leia, for example. Late one day, just as we were finishing an acclimatization hike and nervously preparing for our summit that would begin at midnight, she ran into a snag. We were becoming familiar with using oxygen tanks in case we needed them. But the elevation and oxygen hoses aggravated Leia's sinuses to the point of bleeding. Tissue, toilet paper, and wet wipes were all precious on the mountain, so by day four, she - being a master of innovation - was using clean underwear to blow her nose. Constantly.
Leia was the definition of a fighter, but she was falling behind. She sat down to recover, only to get up and walk a hundred or so more steps before sitting down again. Every time I turned back to check on the situation, I became more concerned. I connected with our senior guide, Abraham, and had him check in with her.
"Leia, would you like me to cry with you?" Abraham asked as he sat next to her on the rocks, reminding her crying makes snot, and snot was not what she needed right now. He could tell she was thinking about giving up. I too could see it in her eyes.
Then Tosha arrived. The oldest of our Tanzanian guides, he had summited Kilimanjaro more than three hundred times. Tosha's gentle, firm manner communicated authority. He was quick to laugh, yet when he spoke, we listened.
Placing a hand on her back, Tosha said, "Leia, do you know what my name means?" She shook her head. "I am the twelfth child of twelve children," he said, smiling. "When I was born, my mother named me Tosha. And it means enough." Through the pain and mucus, Leia got the joke and managed a smile. Then Tosha turned serious. "Leia, see, I am here with you, and you have everything you need to do this. You have enough. You are enough."
Yep, you guessed it: tears. (And more snot too.)
From that moment on, I could not shake the words, "I am with you. You are enough."
For most of us, the greatest enemy to doing good - genuinely knowing and caring - is simply this: we don't feel worthy.
We believe we're not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not strong enough, not spiritual enough, not good enough. Why did Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day say, "Don't call me a saint! I don't want to be dismissed so easily"? Because if she were a saint, the rest of us could get off easy. We could freely leave doing good to those far better than us - more virtuous, more holy, more spiritual, more Dorothy Day.
So, we give up before we begin. We choose apathy or sympathy or even antipathy because we just can't believe we're capable of the virtue of empathy. Leave it for the saints; we're not good enough.
But God says we are good enough. Our Creator has no illusions about us. He knows every square millimeter of you and me. God knows full well we aren't capable of virtue. We all have sinned; we all fall short the Bible says (Romans 3:23). But God became like us so we could become like him - all of us, not just those we consider worthy and saintly.
And herein lies the secret: We are good enough because God is good enough. Full stop. Just like Tosha was there for Leia, God is there for us. He makes us good when we admit our frailty, our inability, and even our depravity and decide to follow him anyway. Without God, Leia gives up, and we don't climb the mountain. With God, the sky is the blue, Leia doubles down, and fourteen women summit their mountain against the odds, each one overcoming themselves along the way.
"Good enough" became our team mantra. We constantly had to choose to slay our demons by believing in a God who loves us as we are, even as he's making us into something more.
Belinda Bauman is the author of the recently released Brave Souls and is the founder of One Million Thumbprints, a movement of peacemakers advocating with women in the world's worst conflict zones. Belinda is also the cofounder of and the visionary behind #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, a campaign calling churches to break the silence on violence against women. Belinda completed a masters in curriculum development at Covenant College, and a certificate in lay trauma counseling from the Seattle School of Theology. She and her husband, Stephan, and their two sons live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Adapted from Brave Souls by Belinda Bauman. Copyright (c) 2019 by Belinda Bauman. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com. Used with permission.
Photo credit (middle of blog photo) - https://onemillionthumbprints.org/community/kilimanjaro/