Not enough. Not skinny enough. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Not athletic enough. Not accomplished enough. Not a good enough cook. Not a good enough housekeeper. Not a good enough wife. Not a good enough mother. Not a good enough daughter. Not enough.
How many of these statements resounded with you? If I’m completely honest, on any given day all of these thoughts go through my head at least once. I look around at other people and constantly play the comparison game.
When my kiddos were little and I would see other people’s kids in their adorable outfits with perfect hair in gorgeous photos while my little ones were playing in the dirt and eating bugs, I would feel like I was failing. Not enough. When my little ones would cry, throw fits, or otherwise be disruptive during worship services (my 5-year-old literally grabbing the door frame right beside the stage, during the sermon, and screaming, “No daddy!” was particularly memorable) I would feel like I was failing. When I was exhausted because I had 4 children under the age of 10, and I just wanted a break, I felt like a terrible mother. Even now that my kids are older (20, 15, 13 and 10) when I see dishes piled up in the sink I feel like I’m not enough. When I have laundry piled up I feel like I’m not enough. When I feed my family frozen pizza or mac-n-cheese for the third time in a week I feel like I’m not enough.
I see my sisters in Christ and their studies, the amazing acts of service that they do, how they are ministering and encouraging in ways that I am not, and I feel like I’m failing. Not enough. I see people who are thinner than me, prettier than me, more athletic than I am, and I feel so guilty for not being better, not being more, for my husband. I feel like I’m failing him. Not enough.
And I don’t believe that I am alone.
While these are just a few of the daily struggles that I personally have, I have sat with my single sisters in Christ who were in tears because they did not feel like they were enough. They didn’t feel that they had anything to offer the church, or really anyone, because they were single and didn’t have a family yet. I have sat with my older sisters who felt that they were irrelevant because they were no longer physically able to serve in the ways they did for years.
No matter our age, no matter our life circumstance, I believe that as women we all struggle at some point or another with feeling like we aren’t enough. A few years ago one of the speakers at the fall Come Fill Your Cup retreat made a very simple, yet profound statement. She said, “We need to remember that good enough, is.” We set these unattainable, inhuman standards for ourselves, and then berate ourselves when we inevitably fail to meet these standards.
I truly believe that most of us as women struggle in this area. I also believe that this struggle is unique and different in each stage of life. For instance do we inadvertently add to our single sisters feeling like they are not enough by constantly asking them about men or relationships, implying that their life won’t really begin until they are married? Or do we help our single sisters feel like they are enough exactly the way they are? Do we reach out to them, encourage them, and help them find a place where they can be actively involved in the work of the church? Do we spend time building relationships with them so that they can share their actual doubts, fears and joys with us rather than just sitting back and assuming what they want or need?
Do we shake our head and tsk, tsk at the young mother whose children are misbehaving in services, leaving her to feel like a failure? Or do we reach out to her, encourage her and offer to help her? Do we share our own stories and let her know that all mothers struggle at times? Do we invest in helping her continue to grow spiritually during a time where chances are she isn’t able to follow a single word during the sermon due to wrangling small ones? Do we let her know that good enough is, and that she doesn’t need to exhaust herself emotionally, mentally and physically trying to be “perfect?”
I have known empty nesters who struggled to feel like they were enough, like they had a place anywhere including the church, because their family role had changed. Do we reach out to these sisters and let them share their wisdom and experience with us? Do we encourage them to see that they still have a vital role in the body of Christ even in this new stage of life?
What about our beautiful gray heads? Our dear sisters who are nearing the end of their race, and may even be running “alone” for the first time in decades due to being a widow? Do we remind them that their spiritual strength and beauty will not fade? Do we let them share their stories of a lifetime with us? Do we make sure that they know they are enough just the way they are, even if they are more limited than they used to be?
When our second child was born my precious grandma stitched a wall hanging for me that still hangs in my house. It says, “Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’til tomorrow, for children grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.” While this was particularly meaningful to me as a new mom, I believe it applies to every stage of our lives.
This was my first introduction to the idea that “good enough, is.” The point is that some things are eternal, and some are not. The souls of my children are eternal, the dishes are not. My soul is eternal, my physical appearance is not. Our season of life: single, married, mother, empty nester, widow, it will always change. Sometimes in positive ways, sometimes in ways that are heartbreaking. But it will change. However the impact we have on the souls around us: our family, friends, brethren, the lost, that will never change.
We cannot afford to get so bogged down and distracted by our physical, material failures and shortcomings that we lose sight of the calling to which we have been called (Ephesians 4:1-3). I’m not perfect. My husband knows that I’m not perfect. My kids know that I’m not perfect. My family and friends know that I’m not perfect. The congregation we work with knows that I’m not perfect. But praise be to God that perfection is not the goal! I pray that when the inevitable doubts and insecurities creep into my mind I will remember that good enough, is. I am thankful for my family, friends and sisters in Christ of all ages who make it OK to not be perfect. Who know of my failures, my shortcomings, and love me anyway. So in case you haven’t heard it today: whatever season of life you are in, my precious sister, good enough is absolutely good enough. Keep fighting the good fight.