Whole and complete, not lacking anything

Jun 13, 2014 by

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Consider it pure joy,
my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
for you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so you may be
whole and complete,
not lacking anything.
— James 1:2-4

A few weeks ago, my therapist encouraged me to try to think about some of my past trials while grounded in a place of gratitude. As I was walking home considering this, a verse that I had memorized over a decade ago sprang into my mind.

I wish I had a great story for why I have counted James 1:2-4 as one of my favorite verses for so many years. Something about taking an opportunity for growth for granted and then really benefiting from it once I was able to find the joy in it. But I don’t have a great story or even just a story.

I have no idea why this verse always resonated with me; it just did, so I memorized it. And as I was walking home that day, thinking about gratitude and trials, I began repeating this verse over and over like a mantra. I found myself getting a little louder each time I said “whole and complete, not lacking anything.” By the time I got to my door, I was declaring it: Whole and Complete. Not Lacking Anything.

It felt radical. It was radical. I, an unmarried, childless, 20-something woman was declaring herself whole and complete, not lacking anything. How many times a day am I bombarded with the message that I am lacking? If I don’t find a husband, I will never be secure. If I never have a child, I will never know real love. I’m young, so I am unable to fully understand the world. I’m a woman, and therefore I am not as capable as a man. These are just a few of the messages women like me receive everyday from advertisements, news articles, magazines, blog posts, coworkers, our friends, family and sometimes just random strangers in the street. Yet here I was, not only declaring, but fully believing that I am whole and complete, not lacking anything.

The day Maya Angelou died, everyone was posting quotes from her on social media. The one that really struck me was: “You alone are enough.” Enough. Too often I do not feel that way. Too often I feel lacking. Like I should be trying harder, doing more. Our culture is built on being incomplete. If we were enough, we wouldn’t need to buy anything to make us whole. But it is Truth that I, alone, am enough.

This is not to say that I don’t need anyone or that I don’t have anything in my life that needs improving. Obviously relationships are vital and there is always room for personal betterment. But, this wholeness seems to me to be like the Kingdom. Here and not yet all at once. I am full and ever being filled. Complete and always getting completer. I declare my wholeness, all the while recognizing that I have much to learn and a ways to go. But if we live in the not yet, we miss out on what is here and now. If I am constantly focused on what I lack, I miss what I already have. I have spent so much of my life focused on the future me that will be complete, I missed out on recognizing my current wholeness.

I have been through trials — my faith has been tested — and I have persevered. Now I declare myself whole and complete. Always continuing to learn and improve, but focused on what I have, not what I lack. There are many things I desire for myself in the future; but for today, I am whole and complete, not lacking anything.

Brooke Natalie Blough lives in Philadelphia, Pa., and works at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship and writes at Now Faith, where this blog first appeared.

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