Barefoot & Preaching is a syndicated monthly column in The Catholic Register.
“I am enough” is a mantra I’ve carried close to my heart these last few years. Brené Brown taught me about being enough with her meditations on the Gifts of Imperfection. Parenthood forced me to acknowledge both what I cannot do and how to show up imperfectly for my kids. And I have been teetering for the last several weeks on an edge of enough I had not seen before.
Though parenting and grief counseling pointed me to the consolation of declaring that my limits are passable, and maybe even good, enough is a concept that also unequivocally declares something lacking. Accepting that I am enough means there are things that I am not.
Over the last few weeks, I was packing and cleaning to list our house for a move to a new city. The work was intense and all-consuming in the carved out hollows between gift opening excitement, family games, and sledding. In the days that followed the listing going live, I discovered a profound discomfort that had been hidden by the busy work: having done everything I could do, my work is not enough.
In the space between the listing and the sale, the accepted job offer and the start date, there is the mystery of waiting and trusting. I cannot cause someone to purchase our (beautiful) house. I cannot answer my kids’ questions about where we will live. I cannot know what has not yet been revealed.
In the clean house with my knitting and my restlessness, I feel wrecked by all the parts of such a big move that I cannot control. The waiting feels so much more exhausting than moving furniture and boxes. The unanswered questions feel like weights around my limbs. I have done everything that is my part, and enough feels entirely inadequate.
And while we were still discerning the move, God gave me a picture to pray with: my daughter leaping off the same dock I jumped off as a girl, beaming with delight at the joy of it all. And through all these weeks, God seems to be whispering to me, with a smile, “Let me catch you, Leah.”
The problem with letting God catch me is that I have to jump. I have to give over the middle and the end, precisely at the place that feels most vulnerable. In the height of risk, surrender is the call. I want to let it ring. I’ll call back when it works better for me.
Despite thousands of recitations of the words, it turns out that I am not okay with being enough. I want to be everything. I want to jump and catch, and the world does not work that way.
For the last several years of grieving and intense growth and healing, I needed the consolation of declaring myself enough. And now I need to grow my comfort with what I lack, what I cannot do, what I need for others to bring and do.
And in these hours and days after Epiphany, the wise wanderers bringing gifts to a baby that could not possibly comprehend, I am aware of just how much salvation depends on a Saviour. Jesus showed us the way of surrender in the manger and on the cross. When Jesus is spent, the Father raises Him, and sends the Spirit. It is enough to pour ourselves out completely and trust that some(O)ne will do the rest.
What is lacking makes space for another. I am enough only because God designed a world where we are only and ever enough when we surrender to each other.
Used properly, the mantra will not make me enough; it will bring me face to face with my needs – for control, for others, and ultimately for God – and teach me to trust and love both my needs and the ones who meet them.
Standing on the dock more than thirty years ago with my toes curled over the edge and my arms frozen behind me, I remember being both scared and certain. The joy was in the thrill of letting go, knowing deeply in my bones that when my legs left the dock, the water would be waiting to hold me. The couch and the knitting and the waiting are no less exhilarating.
What if the surrender is supposed to be fun?
The thing is, there is no happily ever after. There is only ever happy moments, gifts for receiving in the midst of whatever is right now. I am undone fairly often when the illusion of happily ever after falls apart – again.
My feelings come in waves, both fleeting and relentless. They find their way to the fault lines of life’s previous earthquakes.
Both physical courses and spiritual paths have things to teach us with every step. Any medal awarded at the end is only a symbol of the wins along the way. In this way, staying the course is its own reward.
I want to practice curating beauty, participating in its fleeting possibilities, being carried away by the impossibility of it.
At different seasons in my life, I needed the protection Resistance offered because I wasn’t ready to face reality. She sheltered me from greater pain and gave me space and time to grow. Having grown and healed, however, I am recognizing that I have outgrown my friendship with Resistance because she brings more pain that she shelters me from now. It just took me awhile to see because the resistance has become an insidious habit.
As I prepare to celebrate the God who comes to us where we are, again and again, I am delighting that who God is always exceeds my experience and understanding.
Photo Credit: Jon Hansen, CsSROriginally Published in Living with Christ, Wisdom from our friends For most of my life, Advent was a time of preparing for Jesus’ coming, a joyful and prayerful time. We baked cookies and froze them, eagerly anticipating when it would be...
I got to spend two beautiful evenings with my Grandma in the week before she died last month. While I held her hand and listened to her stories, and then to her breathing when she couldn’t speak anymore, I was flooded with memories. Picking raspberries and eating more than we put in the bucket. Sitting on the swing in her garden. Watching parades and going camping. Crawling into bed on Saturday morning after Friday night sleepovers. Sometimes, remembering is effortless.
Thanks acknowledges what is as well as my need. Gratitude pours me out so I can be filled. Thanksgiving pushes me toward the next right thing.
I am convinced there is no moving on from the wounds that break our hearts; there are only shifts.
On Being Barefoot…
Before the burning bush, God asks Moses to take off his sandals, to notice and reverence that he walks on holy land. This holy land continues to burn before me, before us, signaling God’s presence before we arrived rather than because we did. This life we are living was holy before we existed in it. This land and creation we call home is the first book of revelation, God’s love letter to us, bearing witness to the Creator of it all.Our lives and the moments that make them up are the stuff of sainthood, our invitations to participate in Divine life to be swallowed up and fulfilled by God. At the grocery store, in the false solitude of our cars and commutes, in our laundry rooms, and over text messages. My shoes run the risk of “protecting” me from the sacredness of this naked moment. And how I love shoes, and how my sensitive toes resist the prickles of grass and the mess of sand. But barefoot is how my spirituality works, daring to live an embodied and earthy love of Jesus who took on flesh. I’m wandering through this life, yearning to let go of my shoes, to walk reverently and with deep attention to what passes under my feet and to what isn’t yet my path. Barefoot is how I write, how I speak, how I work. Experience shored up against an insatiable thirst for knowledge; direct honesty honed by sensitivity; and vulnerability chained to a commitment to competency. And an unapologetically barefoot tendency to speak it as I feel it, which leads me to…
I’m a preacher without a pulpit, with words that burn until they are spoken ~ aloud or on a page.
My ministry is one of colliding words and ideas, reaching out to find a connection with God’s amazing people.
The world seems to me to be spilling over with grace and we seem to be people who, all too quickly forget that all of this is pure gift.
When I’m driving, eating, visiting, resting, cleaning, working, playing, and almost everything else, I’m frequently stunned by the pure miracle of what simply is.
It’s not all promised joy and ease, but it is all presenced and remembered by the One who gives it. And I can’t stop talking about it, proclaiming it, preaching this good news that we have not been forgotten or forsaken in any moment of this life.
For reasons I don’t quite understand, my words seem to be given to encourage and inspire. In a world where women and girls are still too-often silenced or secondary, I’m barefoot and preaching because my soul won’t rest any other way. If my words can be a gift to you, then that is a gift for me.