Is It Good Enough?

old filing cab

It is at least seven weeks since a metal box containing files with 6 x 8 blue note cards was found in a storage room at the Temple. The blue cards were all filed neatly with rubber bands around each pile, rubber bands that if you touch, now break from age and dryness, even in this Florida humidity. Most of them are typed and they have dates and occasions, rarely titles. It has taken me till this morning to look into this file box. I’m not sure what I was afraid I would find.

They are sermons from the 1970’s. (I know some of you reading this weren’t even born.) I don’t know what is keeping me from going through them. I think it is an adequacy issues – are they good enough. It reminds me when I first began Spiritual Direction. My “director” was a Roman Catholic Dominican Sister who works at a retreat center nearby. When I started she encouraged me to write and journal. I chose to record my sense of the sacred and what being spiritual meant to me at that moment through poetry. The first time I shared a poem with her, she responded with silence. There was lots of silence in those spiritual direction sessions. But I was new and the absence of words felt strange. I jumped right in: Is it good, I asked.

Is it good? There it is. Are they good – those words typed in dark black ink on light blue cards? What has 40 plus years done to them? What have they done to the 40 years? Forty is a special number in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. It rained for forty days and nights as Noah’s ark floated back and forth across the waters. The Israelites wandered for forty years in the wilderness till they were ready to cross the Jordan. Jesus was tempted for 40 days and nights till he passed the test. And that is just for starters. Some say forty is associated with humility; some say transition/change.

I am going to read what’s in that box – there is no doubt in my mind, but not just yet. I don’t know why but it definitely is an adequacy issue. Or maybe it goes back to the symbolic number of the biblical forty. Am I humble enough to be willing to see that I have changed/grown/developed over the years and life is all about transition? Am I strong enough to recognize that maybe I didn’t? The days and the years grow you; the trials and the tests refine you; the blessings, challenges, opportunities and failures hone and polish. Am I willing to accept that some of them may just not meet my over perceived and probably falsely filled standards and some of them may just be plain dated or lousy or saturated with unrealized potential?

This has been helpful; thanks for hanging in with me. I think reading them would be a good exercise in humility. I think it will “grow” me. Stay tuned.




13 thoughts on “Is It Good Enough?

  1. Instead of wondering if it is good, which is a value judgment, look for commonalities between those days and today. My guess is that we all share many of the same concerns. I look forward to hearing about what you find.


  2. I read Lisa’s comment. I like it. But it’s different from your question. Is it good ENOUGH? Versus “wondering if it is good.” Don’t most of us wonder every day about something that we do being “good enough.” I think Lisa is also right about “sharing many of the same concerns.” Now that you’ve started to examine the elephant in the room, you need to report back on exactly what’s in the box. What a cliff hanger.


  3. I have no doubt that each of the sermons was the best you could offer at the time, and that with 40-years of hindsight and experience, you will find some of them better than you remember, and others of them will cause you to realize how much you have grown over these years. Blessings, Tom


  4. I agree with Tom in many ways. Yet, I would add that you may see some as seeds you now want to nurture and nourish so they grow into bigger ideas. In others you will see the roots of ideas you have nurtured over many years so that they have already grown. Some may sadden you for they will offer a reminder of things that have not yet come to fruition. Many may become the kernels that inspire future posts; I hope they do.


  5. What a deeply offered blog post. In a psychotherapy conference I attended a few years back, the speaker asked “what if your secret were everyone’s secret?” That secret was “I’m not good enough”. In its variety of versions, everyone carries some of this, and rather than accepting this as a universal part of being human and vulnerable, it stays secret. That makes your blog post a gift.

    Sent from my iPhone Jacquelyn Browne, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.



  6. this is good. reminds me that a number of years ago in a life transition class I was facilitating we were deep into a discussion about adequacy/inadequacy issues and at one point one of the participants – another writer, actually – paused and said in a very thoughtful-like way, “good enough…is good enough.” that seemed to sum it up. rb

    Ron Browne The Years Ahead 561-301-4131



  7. Catching up on some reading and Rabbiunplugged is high on my list. This really resonates with me.
    I started preaching in 1971, but there is no danger of me coming across file boxes with neatly organized notes. I DID have several boxes of handwritten manuscripts that gradually got tossed as I moved to six different pulpits. I do remember reading some of them before I tossed them – in some cases 20+ years after they were written. One of the things that struck me was that I no longer “owned” them. My ego wasn’t involved. It was MY handwriting (hard to read, as always), but I had forgotten the agony that had gone into their composition and I had forgotten the two phantoms that haunt every sermon – the sermon that, on Saturday, I imagine I will preach and the one that on Sunday afternoon, I realize I could have preached — both of which make the actual sermon pale in comparison.
    I could read them as if they were written by someone else with my name. Best of all, they made me laugh because, for all their datedness and naivete, they were better than I expected and I liked the guy who wrote them.
    I hope you have a similar experience.
    BTW, I’m impressed by the quality of feedback you got on this post. I liked reading the responses as much as reading the post which says a lot for what your writing is really doing for people.


    • I agree – the comments are more interesting than the blog – my readers are smart and articulate and kind – especially to me. I love what you wrote.


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