Back when I was in high school, the yearbook theme for my sophomore year was “Enough? Never!” (Not to make anyone on the yearbook committee feel bad, but . . . seriously? Like there is really anyone out there who can’t get enough of high school.)
It became a sort of inside joke for Stan and me way back when. We’d be doing something, and one of us would say, “Enough?” And the other one would answer, “Never!” Fiercely.
The concept of “enough” has been on my mind the past few months. Let me explain.
In April, when my life seemed to be spiralling out of my control, I had to face some deep, not-very-pleasant truths about myself. Mainly, I have adequacy issues.
I’ve actually known this for some time, but it wasn’t until I really started facing them head on that I discovered how deep and pervasive those issues are.
Ironically enough, it was only after truly staring them in the face that I could let go of them.
As a Mormon woman, I have been taught from the cradle to desire perfection. “Be ye therefore perfect”, right? All through my formative years, I taught myself to do the very best I could. Every “A” on my report card, every paycheck or raise indicated to me that I was on the right track. “I’m headed for perfection, and I have the marks to prove it!” This need for outward validation shaped me.
Enter: motherhood. Exit: outside validation.
Thrust into the day-to-day rigors of caring for babies, I often found joy in them and in all that they were doing. What I didn’t find joy in anymore was myself. Nothing I did seemed good enough.
This feeling of inadequacy would ebb and flow through months and years, some being better than others.
Believing the gospel is true and believing all the doctrines also pertain to me personally has been a challenge. Though that doesn’t make a lot of sense, it has been a huge hurdle to overcome. I was in the presidency of the Young Women in my ward, and I had a testimony that each of those girls was special and loved by their Heavenly Father. Even so, I had a hard time believing it about myself. Every time I saw the love of God manifest in someone else’s life, my testimony was strengthened even while I wasn’t sure it could happen to me.
I felt beaten down by my own expectations of who I was supposed to be. I feared being honest with myself and looking at the details of my life because I knew they would be lacking. I got to the point where I was surrounded by darkness, completely alone. Music has always been an important part of me, and I often sang to lift my spirits. At this point, I couldn’t even do that. Anytime I opened my mouth to sing, all I could do was cry. After a failed attempt to sing my son’s bedtime song, I knew something had to change. My heart, in all its anguish, cried out to my Heavenly Father. I asked, over and over, why am I not enough?
The answer came slowly, like water coming out of a hose for the first time in the spring. It trickled in the beginning. I felt the word, “Peace.” It was a little reminder, saying, “Calm down.” I clung to that word, to the sound the letters made together: Peace. I thought of the scripture, the one that says “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be dismayed.”
I pondered that. My heart was definitely troubled. There were other circumstances in my life that had thrown me into chaos, and I felt like I couldn’t even take a deep breath. The constant inner voices, continually jeering and stabbing that my house wasn’t clean enough and my food wasn’t good enough and my face wasn’t pretty enough and my children weren’t well-behaved enough, reached such a clamor I knew I had to find that peace before I wasn’t able to take care of my family.
I had struggled with adequacy and depression for years, off and on, but it wasn’t until this other thing entered my life and began to consume all my energy that I knew I couldn’t pretend anymore. I needed to find that peace, to reconcile myself to my weaknesses, and allow the Savior to fill in my empty spaces.
Would it work? Would it really happen? Could I attain that divine peace?
It wasn’t the work of a single moment or one prayer saying, “Fill me, please.” But that is how it started. One prayer, like one brick in a wall. Joined with other prayers and lots of study, I realized somthing.
I am enough.
When I am yoked to the Savior I am always enough. I believe it was Robert Millet in his book Saved by Grace that said (and I’m paraphrasing) any negative number plus infinity is still infinity. So Wendy + Jesus Christ will always = infinity.
I also found this great quote by Sheri Dew: “Clearly, Satan wants us to see ourselves as the world sees us, not as the Lord sees us, because the world’s mirror, like a circus mirror in which a five-foot, ten-inch woman appears two feet tall, distorts and minimizes us. Satan tells us we’re not good enough. Not smart enough. Not thin enough. Not cute enough. Not clever enough. Not anything enough. And that is a big, fat, devilish lie. He wants us to believe that there is no status or significance in being a mother. That is a lie–and an evil lie. He wants us to believe that the influence of women is inherently inferior. And that is a lie.” (No Doubt About It, 46).
I had been looking at–and believing–the world’s mirror. Satan’s lies.
It has been a difficult road. It’s easy to slip back into unhealthy thought patterns, especially if those patterns have been prevalent for years. I’ve never fully bought in to the idea of positive self-talk, but I must admit it has helped me so much in recent months.
Whenever I start glancing back at the world’s mirror, I remind myself: I am enough.
At first it was hard to do. I didn’t really believe it. (I have almost an entire page in my journal filled with “I am enough”s. Trying to convince myself.) But that trickle of water from a hose in springtime has turned into the gush of a creek outside its banks from spring runoff. I have never felt so good about myself.
Enough? Yes, thanks. I am.