Yet all too often, I am faced with the feeling that I am not “enough.” When my mother-in-law moved in with us over Thanksgiving, I thought that my love for her and for my husband and children would be enough to create a happy home environment for all of us. I hoped that my abilities to organize, plan, prioritize, make connections, multi-task, and follow through would efficiently manage schedules and responsibilities for seven people. I prayed that my desire to “be Christlike” through sacrificial, forgiving love would supersede anger, frustration, and resentment when rules were not followed, respect was not given, thankfulness was not expressed, and when meal after meal that I prepared was thrown in the trash in front of me and my family.
I came face to face with the reality that all of it (which I translated as “I”) was not “enough” about the time we found a beautiful (fully-furnished) house nearby for my mother-in-law, and were able to bring her husband here from Pennsylvania. Two weeks ago we finished getting them settled after Steve drove them to Pennsylvania to load a trailer of the final items they wished to move to Michigan.
You may not have tried to live with your mother-in-law. Or you may have done so more successfully than I did! Yet I’m guessing you can identify on some level with not being “enough” in some aspect of your life. Here are some examples:
- Many parents feel their parenting wasn’t “enough” to keep their children from creating behavioral issues at school or in the community, or to keep them out of trouble with the legal system.
- Many adults struggle, knowing their best efforts weren’t “enough” to keep from losing their home, their business, their friends, or their marriage.
- Many children believe they were not “enough” to keep their parents’ marriage from disintegrating, as they blame themselves for their parents’ divorce.
- Many males and females believe they could have stopped the abuse that was directed at them if only their efforts to look good, do or say the right things, or make the other person happy had been “enough.”
- Friends may think they could have saved a friendship if only they had “enough” time, patience, money, or insight.
- Students may realize their academic efforts were not “enough” to pass a given grade, to qualify for a necessary scholarship, or to gain admittance into the program of their choice. Or the choices they made were not “enough” to keep them enrolled in school, resulting instead in suspension or expulsion or quitting before reaching the desired goal.
- Many people of all ages and abilities believe their efforts at interacting with others are not “enough” to gain friends, employment opportunities, or other chances at success.
- A person might feel he or she did not pray enough, pursue enough medical treatments, or practice enough preventive health measures to avoid a devastating illness or death of a loved one.
Did you see yourself somewhere in that list? Or do you have other examples? The reality is that sometimes we do not expend enough effort to achieve our goals. Hopefully those times become learning experiences, giving us the motivation to do more or better next time. Yet other times our efforts should have been “enough,” but other people and circumstances made it impossible to achieve our goals.
I find comfort in the knowledge that each day brings new opportunities to love, give, forgive, to expend effort, etc….and there is comfort in knowing that often when things do not work out the way I thought they would, it isn’t that I wasn’t “enough,” but simply it “wasn’t meant to be.” My mother-in-law wasn’t meant to live with us long-term. Instead, she is happily settled in her own home, and her husband is able to be cared for there, and has some activities that help him feel relevant and needed.
This week, I’m wishing all of you renewed inspiration, motivation, and strength for the times when you need to work harder or persist longer at something. I’m also wishing you comfort, peace, and the ability to “let go” when something “isn’t meant to be.” Be gentle with yourself…typically, with the right kind of help, you are “enough” for whatever you are called to do!