An Article for the Cathedral Times by Rev. Canon Lauren Holder, Canon for Community and Education
I’m writing this while listening to the joyful sounds of Week of Wonder children playing games outside my window. I’m writing from my kitchen counter with a KN95 mask on because half my household has tested positive for Covid and the other half (myself included) is trying to stay healthy. The mix of joy and wonder with loss and frustration is often “heard” or felt from my kitchen. Living on the Cathedral campus means that I hear the funeral bells toll while simultaneously hearing the preschoolers squeal with delight on the playground. It means I hear beautiful singing on the labyrinth while also hearing sirens responding to an emergency. I imagine you can hear the contrasting sounds of paradox in your home as well.
One paradox I have been pondering this week comes from a text my mother sent me, suggesting that perhaps introverts often feel like they are “not enough,” and extroverts often feel like they are “too much.” My mother is an introvert, and I am an extrovert—hence her text. But it made me think of the class Canon Cathy Zappa and I have led twice now, exploring some of the unhealthy ways we try to measure our “enoughness.”
There are so many measurements we can (mis)use—smart enough, healthy enough, busy enough, creative enough… a good enough child, good enough parent, good enough partner, good enough employee or boss, good enough student… and even good enough Christian.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the desire to be good. It’s the enoughness that can sometimes trip us up. What is our measuring stick? Is anything less than perfect enough?
And yes, some of us also struggle with the feeling of being too much—too loud, taking up too much space or too much energy, too emotional, too curious. Feeling like too much is a different side of the same coin.
I confess the pendulum swings both ways for me—I often struggle with feeling like I’m too much and not enough. It is unmooring and exhausting. The antidote for me is prayer. When I pray I feel a certain centeredness. I may still feel the tug of enoughness or too muchness, but if God is at the center and I’m drawing close to God in prayer, then I find myself grounded in that center place of love.
I am reminded of the lyrics to a Chris Tomlin song we used to sing in my praise-band days: All of You is more than enough for all of me/For every thirst and every need/You satisfy me with Your love/And all I have in You is more than enough. When I draw close to God in prayer and let God’s love for me and for this broken world be the “enough” I seek, I discover that I still don’t have all the answers, but I have what I need for today. And knowing that truth may be the only answer I need.
A favorite writer of mine, Kate Bowler, has a new-ish book out called “Good Enough.” Kate is a professor of the history of Christianity at Duke Divinity School. She is one smart cookie. And she is living with incurable cancer, which was diagnosed shortly after giving birth to her son. Her faith is made of real stuff, and she articulates it beautifully. Kate often writes blessings to share with the world—this one is from the introduction to her new book:
Blessed are you
who realize there is simply not enough
--time, money, resources.
Blessed are you
who are tired of pretending
that raw effort is the secret to perfection.
It’s not. And you know that now.
Blessed are you
who need a gentle reminder that
even now, even today,
God is here,
that is good enough.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of not enough and too much, receive this blessing. God is here. So draw close to the heart of God and discover the heart of God in you. God in you is enough and never too much.