I am not enough.
The truth resonates through my whole being. It cuts to my core as I stare into the mirror. I know the truth no matter what they say and no consoling or absently reassuring me with fluffy unsubstantiated reasoning will convince me otherwise. “You’re enough” is a popular attempt to appease the wave of uncertainty that every parent feels at one time or another, but is it always true?
As I stare into the mirror I see everything that is good and everything that isn’t. What I know, absolutely, is that I am not strong enough or good enough or capable enough to always be the person and parent that I want to be. But the truth that comes quickly tumbling to the forefront of my soul with my next breath is the realization that I don’t have to be. The truth is refreshing. No matter how broken I am, or how many meltdowns I have, I don’t have to keep up the façade of being enough when I know that at the end of the day I could fill a book with my failures. God never asked for me to be a parent by my own effort or my own enough-ness. God never said, “Don’t worry, because you are enough and that’s all you have to be.”
My ability to be enough is not enough. The gaps of enough-ness are deep crevices I can never fill. What if I believe that I’m enough and it turns out to be untrue? Will my children prosper anyway or will they need counseling later?
You see, I’m impatient and I lose my temper, I make 2 star meals, I swear when I’m angry, I’m immature, I fail to properly discipline my children at times and over discipline at others. I get caught up in gossip, I complain, I get dissatisfied, I yell, I can be selfish, and I’ve lied. Life can be overwhelming and the ugliness of my internal struggles can erupt and mistakes get made and then what I want gets in the way of my ability to love them enough.
Inside I feel conflicted. Is what I want more important that what they need? Am I really a “good Mom?” Life is messy and complicated and can’t be controlled but it doesn’t stop me from trying when I feel overwhelmed. My kids aren’t perfect either. They are tiny people learning how to manage the world and navigate relationships. I don’t want to control them or force them into a quiet obedient state because we learn from the messiness and the chaos. And yet…sometimes…in public, I can feel it rise up. Can’t they sit still in church? Can’t they listen? Why are they running wild? Why aren’t they always well-behaved angels?
At home there are other struggles. My son has no volume control and is always making noises, my daughter has executive function issues and toileting struggles due to her battle with Epilepsy, and the littlest one wants to get her way all the time and wails when she doesn’t. Between monitoring seizures, dirty diapers, soiled underwear, the loudness of constant noise, and a tight living space I can feel the threads of control and an element of peace begin to unravel, all the while my emotions start soaring and my patience disappears. “Quit shouting!” I shout before I walk to my room and shut the door for a quiet moment. It doesn’t last. They seem to know I’m about to lose my mind so they follow me and bang on the door, push each other for the knob and begin to fight.
I am a sinner. And, no, I am not enough. Regardless of my best social face and appearances, I know I fail regularly, as we all do.
The good news is: I don’t have to be enough because I know Someone who is enough. God didn’t create me to be enough, he created me to rely on him when I’m not enough. God didn’t fully equip me to handle being a special needs parent, a cop’s wife, or a good person because if I was enough on my own, I wouldn’t need him.
I do need him. I need him because I am not enough. I need him to fill the gaps in my life and in my parenting and in my relationships where I fail. I need him to infiltrate my heart with his love. Love that overcomes and perseveres and finds peace in the chaos. We learn through our mistakes and the more I realize I am not enough, the more I rely on God and the more he is able to fill the gaps until what is lacking in me is much harder to see and much harder to perceive. Not because I have done anything good, but because the Author of all that is good is at work in me.
I can’t make myself a better parent or a better person. I’ve tried. Telling myself that I‘ll do better next time doesn’t work. The darkness within me always comes out eventually and the depth of my selfish heart is ultimately revealed. I know I am not alone either because…
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Thankfully, God isn’t done with me, just as he isn’t done with you. God has been at work within my heart and soul for years and he hasn’t given up on me. No matter how big of a spoiled punk I can be, he keeps up the hard work and keeps molding me into the parent, wife, and woman he created me to be; the woman I want to be. I may not be enough, but God at work within me is enough. He can fill in the gaps of my love, my parenting, and my relationships. God isn’t trying to control me, he is trying to shape me into something beautiful. I’m going to stumble and fall and fail, but I trust and pray that God will come along side of me every step of the way; and while he guides me and grows me, he will clean the slate and bless my family and create “enough” where “enough” is lacking.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Author: Jacqi Kambish