Live Bravely: When Is Enough, Enough?
I recently asked a group of writing colleagues what the #1 single, biggest personal or emotional challenge they were struggling with in pursuing their individual goal? Overwhelmingly the answer was anxiety and anxious feelings, closely followed by comparison.
Been there, done that. Still there, still doing that. I battle it constantly. I mean y'all, I seriously just texted a guy friend if he thought I was fat? We laughed hysterically while I simultaneously cried about it. I have got to get a grip.
I am not smart enough. I am not working hard enough. My body isn't sexy or thin enough. I haven't written well enough. I haven't saved for retirement enough. My home isn't big enough. My car isn't luxurious enough. I am not loveable enough. My heart isn't pure enough. I am not wealthy enough. I am not organized enough. My day isn't disciplined enough. My life isn't successful enough. I am not young enough. I am not old enough. My Instagram page is not cool enough. My email list of subscribers is not long enough. My fuse is not short enough. My home isn't Fixer Upper style enough. I am not Mother of the Year enough. I am not Christian enough.
I have had enough of the pursuit of enough. Good grief, it's exhausting.
What is enough anyway? How do you measure it? Is it an attainable amount? Who sets the metric on when it's reached? Or not? Can we see enough? Is it viewable? Is there a scale that weighs enough? Or weighs not enough? Can you hold enough? Touch enough? Feel enough? Where is enough? Can you drive to enough? Arrive at enough? Is there a map that shows enough's location? Or is it a baby being born in a manger? Or a man who died on a cross?
If you are reading a chapter a day with me this month in the book of Luke, we are on day/chapter 9 today. Jesus has accomplished much in nine chapters. He healed the sick and the lame, he cast out evil spirits, he raised the dead and spent time ministering to a lowly sinner, was anointed by a sinful woman, he feeds 5,000, he calms the storm and teaches about love for enemies, lamps on a stand and good trees and bad fruit.
All of those to whom Jesus ministered had one thing in common: they weren't enough, but they knew of their need. They came to him with empty outstretched hands, hoping he would show them compassion. And he did not disappoint their hope.
Do you ever wonder if Jesus was stressed? He was. Luke 12:50 he admits it. (No, I didn't read ahead, but there are perks of having to research for this blog) In the Garden of Gethsemane - massive, overwhelming anxiety. But what did he always do when the demands were too much? The pressure was too high? And the days were too long?
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
“Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." (Luke 6:12)
“When Jesus heard what had happened [that John the Baptist was beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place." (Matthew 14:13)
“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)
Praying doesn't change our circumstances immediately, it changes us. Jesus prayed and withdrew because he was completely submissive to his relationship with his Father. In Luke 2 Jesus first recorded words were " Did you not know I had to be in my Father's house?" In Luke 23 his last recorded words were "Father into your hands I commit my spirit." Jesus knew that without God's power, he would not have or be enough to do what he was sent to do.
Moses argued with God. He insisted God had it all wrong when God asked him at 80 years old, to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses told God he was the wrong man for the job. He wasn’t brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, eloquent enough, charismatic enough or confident enough.
“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
And God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-14, NIV).
I’ll go out on a limb and say that like me, you too, have struggled with feelings of inferiority, insecurity and inadequacy. All of us at some point have had a day of constantly filling in the “I’m not __________ enough.”
I’m not strong enough. I’m not experienced enough. I’m not talented enough. I’m not brave enough. I’m not pretty enough.
But here’s what we need to remember: Whatever necessary characteristic we feel we lack, God is. Whatever we need, God is. He is the God who fills in our gaps; He is I AM who fills in our blanks.
When we say, “I’m not strong enough,” God says, “I AM.” When we say, “I’m not smart enough,” God says, “I AM.” When we say, “I’m not good enough,” God says, “I AM.”
Like all those who Jesus touched, taught and treated in his ministry, we have to admit our need. And just like Jesus modeled for us, it's in our needing that God does his best work and shows us, supplies us and fills us with the elusive enough and eventually we are able to feel it, touch it, see it, arrive at it and be it.