When you feel like you’re not enough

Monday was the first day of the Easter holidays. Normally, I get up on the first day of the holidays feeling excited, privileged, and eager. Not so this time. Instead of a sense of anticipation, I had a sense of anxiety and overwhelmedness.

Of not-enoughness.

There was no plan of ‘things to do and places to go’ in the holidays (there normally is). I had had a broken night’s sleep with a blocked-nose 4 year old and was feeling under the weather myself. I felt frazzled by the last few weeks of busier-than-normal life, and by the mental to-do list which began when I got up and saw the laundry basket and just kept getting longer. All by 9 o’clock.

I simply felt that I was not enough for my children, not enough for my work.

You might think that I am heading towards some pat answer that the moral of the story is that I prayed, and things got better.

Well I didn’t. And they didn’t (not until later).

Actually, I sat down and cried.

Then I got up, and we got through the day. We stayed home for a while, the kids played, I scoured the internet for other people’s inspired Easter ideas. We walked to the shops. We made Easter bonnets. We ate lunch while watching the window cleaner shine our dirty windows. We read the next part of the Easter story we’re following in our children’s Bible. The youngest napped, the oldest watched some cartoons. I cleaned the insides of the outside-clean windows. We went to the park to play in the sandpit. We came home for dinner.

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On the surface, this mum and two preschoolers had an OK day.

But scratch a little deeper, and I was just filling the time in order to cover up my own inadequacies. My not-enoughness.

I didn’t want my children to realise that I’m boring, that I’m uninspired, that I don’t have grace in my heart, that I’m not sure how to impress the truths of Easter on them.

So I started to put up a wall. A barrier between my heart and them. So I could go through the motions but not deal with the emotions.

Where’s the love in that?

After they had gone to bed, and I’d just got my holiday list together and written up, I was standing in front of a sink full of bubbles and a pile of dirty pots, and it came to me. I am not enough, and that is the point, and it is OK.

God is enough.

And he gives me grace in my not-enoughness.

If I could count up all the mistakes I have made in life, and especially as a mother, it would be impossible to list them. But if I could count up all the ways He gives me grace, that would be an even longer list.

And the point is that I’m not to be at the centre of their lives. God is. And I’m not to believe that I am meant to be the primary source of love, grace, forgiveness, compassion to them. God is.

In all my not-enoughness, God says that He is enough. ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Often I think that God lets us come up against walls, against barriers, against difficulties to remind us that we aren’t in control, that we need to depend on Him, that we can’t do this thing on our own. The walls and barriers stop us from getting proud.

My not-enoughness yesterday was a trigger which, when I put on the yellow rubber gloves, pointed me to His sufficiency.

But this barrier I was putting up between me and them? It was a different kind of barrier. I put it there, not God. I wanted to put a wall around myself, instead of going along the walls that God puts there to find my way back to His path. It was self-defence, not God-defence.

So I want to tear it down. And in its place, I want intimate vulnerability that points to God and says to them: Yes, I fail. I’m not enough. But God is.

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