It’s a phrase I’ve said to myself many times before: “With God, you are enough.”
But maybe that’s not true. At least, not in the way I used to think about it.
I’ve had a few experiences of late where I have, for lack of better words, not been enough.
It’s been a few rough parenting weeks, and I recently found myself in tears because, once again, I don’t know how to help one of my children. I don’t know the answers, and the answers I offer aren’t received well. I am not enough.
I have a strong understanding of and firm belief in certain spiritual truths, such as casting out fear with faith and not allowing external validation or criticism to sway my feelings about myself and the world around me, yet at times I fear and sway. I am not strong enough to stand in complete confident serenity. I am not enough.
Learning What It Means for God to Make Me Enough
Jesus taught us that with God all things are possible (See Mark 10:27), so I thought it was possible for me to be enough. But I am not.
I used to think that God could make me enough, that He could take all my weaknesses and make them strengths right now. That with His help I could be exactly what my children need me to be and what the world needs to me be—enough.
But I don’t believe that anymore.
This is not a siren sounding from the depths of a depressive epiphany. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
You see, I had clung to the idea that with God I could be enough for everything and everyone nearly my entire life. I knew I’d fall short and not be “enough” on my own, but I accepted it because I knew that with Him, I could be enough. I could be the mother my kids need me to be. I could be the wife I need to be. I could be the speaker and writer publishers and readers need me to be. I could be whatever calling or assignment leader members need me to be. I could be the friend, mentor, helper, and everything else everyone else needed me to be. But just the other night, my daughter walked out of the room, crying, taking my heart with her, and I realized that I still wasn’t enough for her.
Learning I’m Not Meant to Be Enough for Everyone
Being a young adult can be tough, and my daughter is right in the middle of the difficult transition from child to grown up. Being the parent of a young adult can be hard as well. I’m trying to walk the tightrope of offering advice and allowing her space to make her own choices. Sometimes she doesn’t want answers, and other times she wants me to tell her exactly what to do. This dance can be hard on the both of us, and this night was tough one as we discussed goals and plans and expectations.
My immediate thought when she came to me was that with God, I could be enough, and that if I prayed to be more, He would tell me the right thing to say or help me be who she needed me to be. But when that didn’t happen, she walked out of the room crying. I wasn’t enough. As I sat discouraged at my apparent failure, an unexpected thought stretched warmly into my mind like sunlight peeking through newly opened blinds.
I am not enough for her. Neither I nor God will make me enough, because she needs more than just me.
I let that sink in, then began taking steps down that mental road.
I don’t know all the answers, and though God can and has blessed me with inspiration regarding my children, He won’t give me all the answers each of my children need.
Why? Because I am not the only source He wants them to turn to. If I were enough for my daughter, for instance, would she need Him? Would she seek Him? Would she need others in her life?
I have put so much pressure on myself to be enough—which, translated in woman-language means “everything”—that I haven’t left space in my mind for the idea that I’m not supposed to be enough, and that’s a good thing, because I can’t and won’t be enough.
I will fail and disappoint people. I will make mistakes, fall short, and always struggle with weaknesses and faults in this life. I will not know all the answers, connect with every viewer or reader, be perfect at everything, or be “enough.”
And God, as good and capable as He is, won’t make me.
He won’t make me capable of never failing or disappointing people. He won’t make me mistake-free, fault free, or incapable of failure. He won’t make everyone love me and He won’t make me “enough,” even if He could. Because it’s not about me.
Learning to Be Okay with Being Part of Enough
The moment I try to be enough for others—to meet all their needs and make them happy—I do a few things. First, I take away some of their personal responsibility to think and do for themselves. Second, I take away their privilege to grow through struggle. Third, I also leave little room for others to meet a person’s needs as well.
The well-loved quote by Spencer W. Kimball has taken on new meaning as I’ve thought about this: “God does notice us and watches over us, but it is usually through another person that He meets our needs.” I am not supposed to be the only resource a person needs because God has put other people in their lives to help them, support them, and love them too—people who think differently than me and who can reach them in a way that I can’t. Even my own children.
As my daughter and I shared tears the other night, I realized I wasn’t enough for her. I wasn’t enough to give her all the answers she needed or to take all her pain away. I wasn’t enough to respond to her in the perfect way. But that’s not my job. It isn’t the way God has set things up. My daughter needs Him. She needs others. She needs me. She needs the Savior. She needs herself. But when I stand with God, I am part of her enough. When I stand with others who can help my daughter, we are part of her enough. And when I help my daughter stand for herself, she becomes part of her enough.
My part of enough is to love and serve and teach the best I can. It’s not to solve all the problems, say the perfect things, and make all pain go away. It’s to be a prayerful, kind, good person.
It’s not just my daughter I won’t be enough for. I won’t be enough for my other children, my husband, readers, or others in my life that I want to please or take care of. I won’t be enough in my speaking and writing, simply put, because there are some people who simply won’t connect with me. And I have to be okay with that. My part of enough, in this case, is to do my part—to speak and write the good things I love the best I can.
I won’t be enough for those in my wider circle of friends and acquaintances. I’m not the friend you see in the movies who says the perfect things in three lines and all the world is better. But my part of enough is to pray for them, serve them, lift them, and love them.
I used to think I could be enough with God’s help, meaning that He would make up for my mistakes and faults and fill in the holes I’d left—like holy armor or a divine clean-up crew—so my efforts would, then, be enough.
But now I see enough as me standing next to Him—side by side with Him. I do my part while He goes to work through the Spirit and others, to help meet the other needs and righteous wants of those I love. I am a part of His plan, not the whole plan.
In this new light, I am no longer afraid of not being enough for my children or anyone. There is no failure in not meeting everyone’s needs, because that’s not God’s expectation. That’s not my job.
I can trust that God knows my children—and all of His children—well enough that He knows how to give all they need, to give them enough, if they let Him. (Because in all of this, people still have their agency and can choose to reject all their enoughs if they want.)
My mind, now, turns to the people in my life, how they fill their parts of my enough. And I love them. I love the different colors and beats they bring into my life. I love that my needs are met through many of them—some needs I didn’t even know I had.
Some play bigger parts in my enough—like my husband, my children, my parents, and close friends. Some play smaller, but vital parts of my enough—like the friend who sends what they think is a random message but which was actually the answer to a prayer I’d whispered that morning.
Like a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes swirling together, I can see God bringing people into my life that all play parts in my enough.
And I can see, now, that I am just a part of theirs.
Now, I have a new motto. Rather than, “I have to be enough,” I remind myself, “I am part of enough.” In fact, I’m going to cross-stitch it on a pillow. That’s how much I love it.
I don’t have to be enough for everyone. Even my kids. I just have to try to do my part of enough well. And that is something, I think, God will help me make possible.