Striving for "Enough"
I've been struggling to know how to blog now that I'm done sharing my story through Post Partum Anxiety. I have drafted so many blog entries, but haven't been able to find the right words to finish them or to make sure they make sense. It feels like an entirely different ball game writing about something current or new or is just simply my POV, instead of writing about something that I experienced and am reflecting on. I've definitely questioned whether I am blogger material because of it, and I think maybe I'm not...but I'm still going to try anyways. Because, as you'll read in this particular post, I'm making an effort to shift my perspective and to be OK with not being good enough but doing the thing anyways. Doing it for the joy, for the fun, for the learning, and for the opportunity to be an example for my kids on showing up regardless of the outcome.
So today's entry is a POV on something that has been on my mind often lately, and I think if I'm going to give this blogging thing a go than most of my posts will be me spilling my heart out on ideas that are impacting me. They might not always be your cup of tea, and I hope that's OK. But I also hope that some of my heart-things are your heart-things too, because the more we share with each other, the lighter this journey will be.
"You are enough". So short, so sweet and so...complicated.
Something that I've noticed on social media, and as a letterer who is constantly on the lookout for new quotes to write, is that there are trends in the messages we share with one another. I never would have thought about quotes as something that had trends, but when I'm looking for a certain type of quote or phrase to letter I often will have to scroll past dozens of the same one before I get to something that hasn't been shared 1 million times already. I'm sure we have all seen the phrase "you are enough" on a coffee mug or a t-shirt recently. Maybe you've even used it youself - I totally have used it recently, just take a look through my lettering posts! It's a phrase with really good intentions - one that is meant to encourage us and gently remind us that we are all humans doing our best with what we've been given. And it's not a lie...every single one of us IS enough to be Loved, respected and treated with kindness regardless of where we come from or what we look like or what decisions we've made in the past/present/future.
But there's something in this phrase that never sits well with me, even though I use it myself. Why? Because while it isn't a lie...it also kind of is a lie. Let me explain.
As a mother, wife, friend, etc. I want to cling to this phrase and shout it from the rooftops. I want to believe that I am enough for all the people in my life. But most days I do not feel enough - particularly in this age of social media and digital content, where anyone can share something from anywhere in the world and I can see it while I sit on my couch in Saskatoon, SK. Because of my interests and who I've chosen to follow, a lot of what I see is other women, especially moms, in normal life settings. And I notice that these other mom's are feeding their kids really healthy food while I order mine bagels from Tim Horton's; I see friends going out of their way to spread kindness while I forget to text people back within a 48 hour period; I see my colleagues doing really big and exciting things while my work is quietly chugging along. On one hand, it's incredibly wonderful to see people doing good things and thereby inspiring others (including me) to do the same. And don't get me wrong, I love Instagram and Pinterest and am an avid user of these platforms - but I acknowledge that they are master manipulators. No collection of squares could ever show the wholeness of a persons life and we literally can choose to ONLY see the nice parts. I think we all roll our eyes a little bit when we're reminded of this little truth (I know I do!) - I mean, come on, we're capable adults and we know that life isn't a fairy tale all the time!
But do we really know that?
Because what I know for myself is that if I've been paying too much attention to those pretty little boxes for too long, they are what my reference point is when I ask myself questions like "is my house decorated enough?" or "are my kids active enough?"or "will my husband think I'm pretty enough in this sweatshirt and sweatpants?" ( <-- mine says he does, but I'm not sure I believe him, LOL). If we take a moment to be honest with ourselves about how we are perceiving the world around us, we are actually TERRIBLE at knowing the difference between real and fake, friends. And it's important to admit that. Because if those curated squares that are literally made to market "enoughness" to us, our definition of enough gets really tiny and extremely unattainable. I often refer to myself as an Instagram-snob because I do not follow a lot of people and if I decide to follow someone new I do a lot of "research" into whether or not it's a good idea for me. Why? Because I need to evaluate who I am watching and giving my attention to in order to guard my mind and my heart. It really is important to remind ourselves of what is true and what is only partly-true in order to keep our expectations of ourselves and our lives realistic (disclaimer: I do believe that there are many people who are honest when they post to these social media platforms, I'm not trying say every one is a big ol' fake) . But even more than just adjusting our expectations, it's important to remind ourselves that what our lives look like is good because that is the life that we have been gifted. We should be grateful for it, including the hardships, because it could all be taken from us in a split-second or traded for something worse than we ever imagined.
This is why I have a weird relationship with this very popular phrase "you are enough". Because who's definition of enough are we referring to? Is it our own? Is it popular opinion? Or is it even the definition that matters? Depending on the context we find ourselves in, we can be enough...and we should definitely celebrate those times and situations!! But if we're talking about a life-sized definition of what enough is, than aren't we setting ourselves up for an unpleasant wake-up call someday? Because if we are being completely 100% honest...we are not enough. Not even close.
And while this is a humbling thing to remind ourselves of - it isn't completely terrible, either. Struggling to follow me? That's OK, I kind of am too, but here's what I mean:
We fail every single day. As a mom, there are countless ways that I have failed my children just since we all woke up this morning. Example one: my middle child didn't eat breakfast before we left the house. Example two: my oldest wanted to take her bike to daycare and I "forgot" to put it in the trunk. Sure, these aren't major failures on the list of bad parenting (in my defense of the no breakfast one - she wasn't hungry and they get fed as soon as they get dropped off at daycare, LOL), but they are still failings. Which means that I am not enough for my kids. As a wife, I fail all the time to show my husband enough love and appreciation. Example: he does the dishes way more than I do, but if he forgets to wipe down the counters, so-help-me he will hear about it!! Again, not a major failure, but a failure none-the-less.
And I know - it really sucks thinking about our failures and admitting to the things that make us not enough for our families or our co-workers or our friends. It's also, unfortunately, very easy for us to think about our not-enoughness too often, and so I do see why sharing phrases like "you are enough" is a valuable tool in encouraging one another. It is not at all wrong that we want to be enough for each other or for ourselves. But I do think it's wrong, not to mention unhealthy, to try and convince ourselves that we can be enough because it's just not possible. And you know what? That's OK, because there is One who already is enough for every single one of us.
Another thing that often comes to mind when I read the well-intentioned "you are enough" message, is that the message we are trying to convince ourselves of is rooted in self-reliance and pride. I am enough. I am what I need. I can find fulfillment in myself. Let me clarify something: feeling good about ourselves is not prideful; feeling accomplished is not prideful; feeling like a good mom or a good person is not prideful. What IS prideful is feeling that you are capable of doing things without community and feeling that you need to always be looking out for #1 (yourself) before others. If our motto is "I am enough" it leads us down a dangerous path, a path that we too often see celebrated in our society (our obsession with fame and followers, for example). Of course, the opposite motto -"I am not enough" - is 100% unhealthy as well and is also too often reflected in our society (ie: our inflamed statistics of depression and suicide). So much of the cyclical thinking that I got trapped into, when experiencing Postpartum Anxiety symptoms, had to do with my not-enoughness. My hormone-deficient brain was constantly repeating the message that I was not good enough for my kids or my husband, and those ideas literally drove me to the brink of insanity (x3). It has taken me years to accept that the mother I am (the person I am) is good enough for my family, despite my imperfections and flaws.
So what in the world am I even saying, if on one-hand we are enough but than on the other-hand we are not enough?
I think what I'm trying to say is that we've actually missed the point entirely. We have gotten distracted by something shiny instead of focusing on what matters.
And I believe what matters is this: we were made by a Creator who intends for us to find our wholeness in His enoughness. And what this means is that us "being enough" is not what we should be striving for, or even getting preoccupied with at all. Instead of thinking about how not enough we are (or how enough we think we are), we were created to be preoccupied with finding joy, satisfaction and Love in the God who made us. Not ourselves. Because we will never find it in ourselves. And our society has sadly been fooled into thinking that we ever could find it in ourselves, if we just believe it enough...if we repeat "you are enough" enough. History has proven to us over and over that no matter how hard humanity tries to be the enough we are searching for, we always fail. So why do we keep trying?? Why can't we just allow ourselves to admit that we aren't enough and seek out the One who is?? And no - I am not implying that we were made to live irresponsibly or to intentionally make mistakes because of our not-enoughness. I am saying that we can stop striving for something that does not matter and start striving for the things that do - Love. Kindness. Humility. Justice. Mercy. Patience. Holiness.
So, as nice as it sounds and as well-intentioned as it is, I'm going to stop using the phrase "you are enough" as a way to encourage you. For my own benefit, too, I'm going to let go of the idea of being enough. Because I don't think that's what we really need to be reminded of.
Instead I'm going to remind you that "God is enough" and that He wants you to rest easy in His Love and Grace.
#motherhood #parenthood #postpartum #postpartumanxiety #embraceyourmotherhood #motherhoodrising #mendingmotherhood #takebackpostpartum #momswholovejesus #commonground #mentalhealth #therapeutictools #ohheymama #thisismotherhood #workingmom #embracethechaos #thegospel #gracefortoday #inthethickofit #youareenough #missingthepoint #purpose