Not Bad Enough or Good enough!

Times have changed … Good grief, what a revelation G. True, but occasionally we need to be reminded of that fact. When I was five years old we lived in northeastern Oklahoma and attended an old established Methodist church; a church that I visited the day after this past Thanksgiving for the first time in nearly sixty years. Well, I say I visited but that’s not quite accurate; drove by is a more accurate description of the moment. The streets in front of and aside the building are not nearly the wide avenues I recalled but the building is exactly what I remembered and it’s still a Methodist church amazingly enough. The building cattycorner is still as I remembered, but it’s not a Presbyterian church anymore. The sign says that it is now a Pentecostal church of some stripe.
That big red brick edifice which has stood the test of time is important to me, not because of lessons about Jesus or God learned there, but because of what I learned of men and women who’d made a difference in the world. The church had an amazing children’s library which I made a beeline for each Sunday from the time I learned to read until we move away three and a half years later.
I didn’t read the usual children’s fare like The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. No, I read the extensive collection of biographies of the famous men and women who had shaped our country. Each week I checked out two books and had read half of one of them by the time church was over. The other one I finished during the week so I could check out two more. I read about everyone from the usual suspects of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to the little known like Squanto, one of the Indians who welcomed the first pilgrims, John Marshall, our first Supreme Court Justice, George Washington Carver, (my personal favorite because he invented peanut butter) and Martha Washington, George’s wife.
I came to believe that I was meant to be famous, that I would contribute something special to this world; to this country, which would merit my inclusion in the biography section of the worlds’ libraries. What the heck happened? Those details of what happened are what my memoir is all about; at least to a degree. The bright side is that I’m still alive and may succeed yet. If I do succeed, it will be because one of those little thorns that parents often, unintentionally place in the flesh of their children’s self-image was finally removed. That thorn was “bad enough.”
From the time I was in fifth or sixth grade until my senior year in high school I had pathetic grades at best and terrible grades at worst. Each report card would be reviewed by Dad after which he would ask the same question. “Don’t you want good grades?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
“Well, you don’t want them bad enough. If you did you’d get good grades.”
So, since it was Dad speaking and it was his assessment then it must be correct. After all he was “Dad” and “Dad” was always right. It took years to realize that not wanting “bad enough” led to a feeling of not being “good enough.” If there has been one overriding benefit to writing a memoir that is mostly about “George,” it’s been that “I” have been able to finally see and understand all the things that stifled his expression , and by extension, mine. A feeling of not bad enough giving birth to a feeling of not good enough was found at the root of all; every single one of the failures.
I would never have understood that or overcome it if I had not, at last, finally and completely turned all of what is me/us/him to Abba to do with as he pleased. I finally came to the realization that The Maker, Abba, of the product, that’s me/us, is logically the one to guide its development, function and use. I wonder at times if George Washington Carver struggled with feelings of “not bad enough/not good enough.” After all he was born a slave, but died an educated, highly regarded scientist and inventor of the early twentieth century. Surely there were plenty of people who considered him “not good enough” because his skin was black. Do you think the fact that he had only “George” to worry about helped? Probably!
I may be late to the party, but I finally wanted to tell my story “bad enough” to get it done, and I finally felt “good enough” to get “Dear Mom and Dad,” published, and for people to gain from the reading of it. And … God willing there is still more of my history, past to re-live, present and future to live and subsequently share … with you.

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