Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lagom: Sometimes good enough is good enough.

I am writing this in response to Peter Pollock’s blog carnival topic of intimidation, or actually, letting go of intimidation.  I believe I can feel intimidated by life’s challenges when I think I don’t have what it takes to meet those challenges.  Sadly, I often feel “Not good enough.”

Then I learned a Swedish word – Lagom.  There is no direct English equivalent, but roughly, it means, “good enough”, “adequate”, “sufficient”, without the negative connotation of mediocrity or scarcity that surrounds our English words.  It sounds like a good philosophy to have.  For many times, we may not have more than others, but we have lagom.  And that is sufficient.

Sometimes good enough is good enough.

Wow!  What a hard time I have with that concept.  Our American culture is one of constant striving. We are never to be content with what we have.  Each person should aspire to be as the 70’s TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man” stated, “…Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”

Striving to improve is not a bad thing.  How can I reconcile it with the idea that who I am, and what I do is “good enough”?  When is lagom appropriate in my life?

I believe lagom is appropriate when

  • I sense that perfectionism is affecting my ability to take any sort of action at all.  When I experience “writer’s block”, more often than not, perfectionism is at the root of my inability to write.

  • I am interviewing for a position or making a presentation.  Provided that I have prepared adequately, I simply have to follow my plan and realize that others’ opinions are just that: their opinions.

  • I am in the midst of a depressive episode and nothing I do seems good enough.  During those times, I need to give myself credit for accomplishing anything at all, no matter how meager the results.

  • I wonder if God loves me.   Many Bible verses point to God’s love for us, his children.  Here are just a few examples: 

There’s the popular John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  

Also, Romans 5:8 – “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”

And, Romans 8:37-39 – “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And finally, Romans 8:15-16 – “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God…”

The comic character Stuart Smalley is known for saying, “I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” While that type of affirmation has become a cliché, it does illustrate an important fact: Life need not be intimidating. God loves you. God loves me. And that is lagom.

**Note: I realize, knowing nothing about Swedish grammar, that lagom might be incorrectly used in this post. I hope that fact does not take away from the concept of lagom itself.

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