“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?