By Randi Peck
I can remember the shock of discovering, ten months after marrying my best friend, that we were expecting a baby. I had to let go of our “5-year-plan”, quickly turned on its head by “the God plan”. I coveted a longer newlywed stage. And I wasn’t ready to give way to this new season, this new body… this new human within.
It sounds so selfish, now, realizing the gift of parenthood- and how difficult it is for many to come by. But it was real. And I think it was okay. God was patient in my processing. My selfish heart was stripped, one stretch mark at a time. With each doctor’s appointment, tuning into the heartbeat of my daughter, I softened to his way. His better way.
But, overwhelmingly, I can just recall feelings of I’m not ready… I haven’t had enough time to be me. Enough years, as a wife. Enough experience, to raise a person.
Fast forward, three years, and I stood, staring down at my third positive pregnancy test. In the background, were shouts of “Mommmmmmy!” My husband and I stared at one another. Literally, wide eyed. Speechless.
Third child around, and- while I won’t get into the details of our birth control methods- we were not expecting this precious one either.
Once again, I battled selfishness. Three kids in three and a half years. Not my plan, Lord…
But this time around, it was selfishness of a different breed. It was a grief disguised as noble. A mourning- not of, “There’s not enough time for me”; but rather, “There’s not enough me for them!”
This time around, I knew how much joy this child would fill my heart with. I knew what a gift from above. And I wanted more of me to give him or her.
I mean, was it so wrong to want to sit and brush my daughter’s hair- without my toddler needing swiftly swept from his dangerous tabletop plight?
To sit and finish my heart-to-heart with my son, without my newborn wailing for another meal…
To enjoy the cuddles with my tiny baby without having to set her down and split up a fight…
This entitlement felt more justified. After all, am I not to cherish each child? Isn’t it my job to pour into them, making the most of each young, moldable month? How can I do that when I’m solely in survival mode?… When my main goal is to keep them alive and, if possible, feed them more than Cheerios for lunch?
God emptied me, with that first child, of so much selfishness. But, three kids later, I see that my well of control runs deep.
Those faces aren’t wiped nearly as clean, and those binkies aren’t sanitized nearly as often— well, okay- not at all, nowadays. Day after exhausting day, though, in the mayhem of it all- I have discovered a sweet reality. As I gradually recognize my lack of ability to be enough for my children, God has kindly spoken to me: You were never supposed to be.
Even as I type this, with only my right hand- my lap is occupied by a squirming six-month-old… There is not enough of me.
But these moments cause me to cry out to God. And when I do:
“Lord, he needs me. She needs me. I am letting them down…”
He reminds me: They don’t need you. They need ME.
He assures me that I cannot be their god.
He reveals to me that in even attempting to be their everything, I am leading them astray from the One who is.
You have unwittingly attempted to play god, as well. I don’t know who you are, reading this, but I know you have felt the grief of not being enough.
Maybe you are carrying the burden of trying to “convict” your husband of his sins, trying to “keep” him faithful…
Or perhaps you’ve been the one to break your vows in some form, and you’ve caused his devastation…
Maybe you disappointed a friend, and there’s no excuse..
Or you are struggling to keep up with your boss’s expectations…
Whatever it is, there is freedom—
Yes, in accepting our insufficiency. But more so, in embracing HIS sufficiency… not just for ourselves, but for those around us!
To stop trying to solve all our friends’ issues…
To stop attempting to avoid every potential pitfall our kids may fall into…
To stop trying to embody all beauty for our husbands…
NOT because we stop caring. NOT because we stop striving after righteousness and holiness, in Jesus Christ.
But because we are choosing to love them ENOUGH to lead them to the true, able God. Because we are willing to set down our feeble attempts to satisfy and sanctify- and let them run to El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One.
When I acknowledge that I was never designed to meet all the needs of my loved ones, when I fall on my Big-Enough Father for help… then I can actually be what I was intended to be:
The mom who, though she may not have it all together, can carry her children to the foot of the cross.
The wife who, after tears of failure, can believe grace and then extend grace and speak grace over her husband.
The friend who, in lacking all the right things to say, can merely “carry their mat” and “remove the roof”, to lower them to the One who can heal them.
And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2: 3-5)