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On Being “Enough”

One of the challenges and blessings of being single in the LDS church is that you come face to face with your inadequacies and shortcomings.” Don ?t get me wrong, I felt these inadequacies as a married Mormon wife and mother, but the feelings were more easily covered up by the ability to “fit in” and blend (and also by the sheer busy-ness of young Mormon family life). However, once the marriage was gone and I became a square peg, these inadequacies hit me in the face.

I will spare everyone the list of my particular anxieties as I know we all have our own list of how we think or know we fall short. What I hope to focus on is the sweet blessing of this painful experience. I came to realize that it doesn ?t matter ?no matter how “good” I was or how “competent” or “righteous” I tried to be, it would never be “enough” to not need my Savior and His atoning sacrifice. This knowledge has healed me and continues to heal wounds in me that I wasn’t even aware were there.

I didn’t realize just how much this lesson meant to me until a few months ago when I was sitting in a combined Priesthood/Relief Society lesson. The teacher was presenting information from a conference talk and was focusing on are we doing “enough, are we magnifying our callings, are we doing our “best”? I started feeling really bad inside and was looking around at my fellow ward members and I have to admit, I got a little upset. I asked the teacher to “back up” to what he had just asked, and I gave a little speech on the “are we doing our best” question he had posed. And here is what I said (to the best of my memory):

Brother so and so, I have to back up here and address the questions you just posed, because yes, I am magnifying my callings, and as I look around this room I see everyone who is here is here and they are doing their best and they are trying to live the Gospel and they are serving in so many ways. Brother so and so just gave a great Gospel Doctrine lesson. Sister so and so just gave a great talk to us today in Sacrament meeting. And this is just scratching the surface of everything that we do day in and day out. I am, frankly, tired of us beating up on ourselves because we aren’t doing “enough.” We are all “enough” and I think it is hogwash [yes, I actually said hogwash] that we denigrate all the good we are trying to do.

Fortunately, at this point, some other Relief Society sisters chimed in and the lesson started to have some class participation and got interesting. What amazed me was the number of people who came up to me afterwards and said “thank you” and that they were feeling really bad on the inside, too.

So, my point here is ?we are enough. We are imperfect and flawed and learning and stumbling and trying and it is enough. The Lord loves us in spite of all of that. He atoned for us so he could make up the difference. Oh, how I love Him for that.

And from the moment I realized that truth, my love for Him and my desire to serve Him deepened and flowed over me. I could do everything perfectly ? for the rest of my life and I would still be unworthy.

Does this mean I don ?t have to keep learning and growing and trying? Absolutely not, but it means that I can stop beating myself up for the past, that I can learn from it and move forward in faith, and that, most importantly, I can let the Savior love me, just as I am, right where I am.

I hope that we can all feel that love in our lives and move forward this year knowing that we are enough.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • jennycherie December 30, 2009, 9:49 am

    I can’t read this post but I love the title!

  • daisy December 30, 2009, 4:36 pm

    THank you Julie, THis is lovely. And so appropriate at this time of year when people set goals. I think setting goals is very important. But for me they are more easily reached if I love and appreciate who I am now and what I’ve accomplished so far.

    A favorite picture book of mine is by Rachel Ann Nunes- Daugher of a King. It spans the life of an individual and as she nears the end she says to her companion. “I’m afraid, WHat if I don’t belong? All of my life I’ve wanted to come here(meaning heaven). But what if the King doesn’t know me? It has been so long, and I am so worn and dirty. I don’t feel like the daughter of a King.” And her companion answers. “He will know you by what’s inside your heart.”

    We are all of us just trying to do our best. I think it’s important to remember that we aren’t the ones to judge what another person’s best is. We don’t know what they started with. Even if we think we do, or think we can make that judgment, we’d be wrong. Judging is best left to God. Heck, we have a hard enough time judgeing our own behavoir fairly, for good or bad!

    Anyway, thanks for the right perspective on New Years’ Resolutions.

  • daisy December 30, 2009, 6:46 pm

    Jennycherie, if you want to read her whole post, go to the home page it is there. Don’t know why the link won’t work.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 30, 2009, 8:10 pm

    Think I got the links fixed on both ends. Both WordPress and Vanilla hate curly quotes! 🙂

  • jennycherie December 30, 2009, 8:25 pm

    great – I can read it now! Beautiful post, Julie! I can remember a couple of specific times being particularly concerned with this idea of being “enough.” So often it feels like nothing I ever can do will be “enough” and, as you stated, it never will be enough that I don’t need my Savior. Very well said.

  • Julie Echols December 30, 2009, 8:40 pm

    Alison-Thanks for the fix. Jenny thanks for hanging in there….and daisy…thanks for mentioning the book. It is one of my favorites and I hadn’t thought about it in awhile….I will need to go find it and re-read and enjoy. One thought that bubbled up after I posted this was a song that I heard a couple of years ago…and which I feel speaks to our inner fears of “are we good enough”? Here is a link if you want to give it a listen.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqO6iJ5Yz60

    It reminds me to keep a lookout for those around me who may be “hurting” and may need to be reminded that none of us are perfect.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  • Alison Moore Smith December 31, 2009, 2:21 am

    Julie, I just went in to try to remove the artifacts from the article (there were a ton of added elipsis with extra periods and no paragraphs, etc.) and there was something strange going on with duplicate text.

    Anyway, I THINK it’s right now, but let me know if it’s not. If the post doesn’t read correctly, it’s totally MY fault!

  • facethemusic December 31, 2009, 8:38 am

    “I am, frankly, tired of us beating up on ourselves because we aren ?t doing enough. ? We are all enough ? and I think it is hogwash [yes, I actually said hogwash] that we denigrate all the good we are trying to do….So my point here is ?we are enough. We are imperfect and flawed and learning and stumbling and trying and it is enough. The Lord loves us in spite of all of that. He atoned for us so he could make up the difference. Oh, how I love Him for that.”

    You’re thoughts Julie are ones that get me thinking and analyzing–
    Of COURSE the Lord loves us despite our faults and failings. And of course he atoned for those faults and failings to make up the difference between our inability to be perfect and HIS perfection, which is required to be with Him again. Clearly, we’re all “enough” for the Savior, in His atonement for us. Even the scummiest, most vile and evil people on the planet are “enough” for the Savior in His role as Redeemer. He would have suffered and atoned for the sins of the world even if I was the only one who sinned. Even if you were the only one who sinned. Even Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot or ___________ (insert your choice of monumentally evil people here) are “enough” in the sight of God when it comes to the Savior and His all encompassing Atonement. But the POINT of this life is to “prove ourselves herewith”– we’re SUPPOSE to do our best– EVEN THOUGH our best will never be “enough” on it’s own. There’s something in the process of honest striving to like Him…
    There’s a big difference between being obsessed with perfection and never giving oneself credit where credit is due, never recognizing one’s own personal growth, efforts, accomplishments, etc versus saying to oneself– “I’ve done enough” and being complacent which you briefly touched on towards the very end of your post.
    But, with all the counsel from Church leaders about doing a little more, working a little harder, being a little more committed,etc, and particularly Elder Oaks’ recent address about “Good, Better, Best”– I think it’s very clear that IN GENERAL more IS expected of us. And often, what we’re doing ISN’T enough.
    However, I think those same leaders would agree that when it comes to this issue, what’s MOST important is our own honesty. When we’re truly honest with ourselves we can assess our efforts in the various arenas of our lives and determine where we might sincerely be doing “enough” which I think could fairly be defined as “our best at our current level of understanding and capability” and where we aren’t.
    It’s important to note that “our best” or “enough” can change from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month, etc, depending on our circumstances- whether they be financially, physically or spiritually.
    There are many people who are very LAZY in their callings. They procrastinate and wait until an hour before church to throw together a lesson, if they bother to even show up to church. And when they don’t, they don’t even bother to let anyone know they’re not coming, let alone call a substitute. They fail to attend any of the planning or training meetings, they aren’t having personal prayer or scripture study– in general, they aren’t really doing anything at all to actually GROW in the gospel. They just show up to keep up the image of being an active member, or to qualify for church assistance, or to assuage their guilt. That is not “enough”.
    There are also many people who might be doing JUST AS LITTLE in their callings but who are honestly doing their best at the time. They might be dealing with health issues that stop them from being able to attend their meetings, they may have SEVERAL callings and are having to spread themselves out very thin just to get SOMETHING done in each of their callings, they may have been in the middle of other really big projects that simply took the bulk of their time, but when they finally DID have an hour or so, they sincerely sought the Lord in prayer and put together a lesson just before church started.
    I remember once when I was in the YW presidency– we were having an activity night near Christmas at the ice skating rink. We were suppose to meet at the church, pick up the girls and head about 15 miles into the city to skate. But it was a good 15 miles from my house to the church, too. I had a 1/4 tank of gas in the van, and no money to fill it either. I knew I could get a couple of the girls TO the church, but I knew I couldn’t get to the church AND the rink, AND get home. (And we always had to pick up all the girls and drop them off because their parents wouldn’t do it). So I had to call the president and tell her I could drop a couple girls off at the church, but couldn’t drive to the activity–even though I had the biggest van and they were counting on my vehicle. I did my best, and that WAS enough. But there were parents who were NOT doing enough– they were just being selfish and lazy– not wanting to miss an episode of SURVIVOR and wouldn’t take their kids back and forth to Mutual or help transport kids to the activity.
    I guess maybe I’m just feeling a little sympathetic for the teacher in the class that day. You said the source of his material was a Conference talk– so unless the teacher added his own “personal doctrine” that wasn’t true, than I assume that the discussion about “doing our best” CAME FROM the conference talk and that what the teacher was saying was doctrinally correct. Did he actually “denigrate” all the good people do? Did he SAY people should “beat themselves up for the past”? Or was he just teaching DOCTRINE and people were taking the counsel to “do your best” as a personal attack and accusation that they’re NOT? It’s probably safe to say, or at least we should give the teacher the benefit of a doubt, that HE had “done HIS best” to prepare the lesson that day and focused on what the Spirit TOLD him to focus on and I wonder how he felt, quoting Church leaders about our need to do our best, only to have several in the classroom complaining about the counsel because it makes them feel guilty and saying it’s “hogwash”.
    Maybe there were just as many people in that combined RS/Priesthood meeting who NEEDED that lesson as there were people who were annoyed by it.

  • Julie Echols December 31, 2009, 10:06 am

    Facethemusic-

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I worried that when I rushed this post “to press” that I wasn’t going to be able to present the full picture of what had happened in that lesson. I guess I am blessed to live in a ward where I don’t see many “slackers” and instead see people who give and give and give and once in a while need to be reminded that it is okay to feel like they are “enough”. I also made it very clear at the time (and didn’t do such a great job communicating in my post) that I wasn’t attacking “the teacher” whom I have great respect for, but that I was addressing the idea that sometimes we can take the “proving ourselves” a bit too far. I like what you said about honesty and that is where the conversation started to lead once some other sisters chimed in.

    However, I think those same leaders would agree that when it comes to this issue, what’s MOST important is our own honesty. When we’re truly honest with ourselves we can assess our efforts in the various arenas of our lives and determine where we might sincerely be doing “enough” which I think could fairly be defined as “our best at our current level of understanding and capability” and where we aren’t.

    My “best” today is going to be different than my “best” tomorrow and it is all enough as long as I am offering all that I can in my current circumstance. I guess where I get concerned is that there seem to be people (women in particular) who beat themselves senseless because they can’t “Be it all” or “Do it all”. I can understand how frustrating it is to work with people who you feel aren’t pulling their load (I have been in some wards where that was the case) so I guess my message is more to those who ARE pulling their load and more….to just remind them (in case they need reminding) that they are loved for WHO they are and not WHAT they do.

    Thanks again for your well thought-out response.

  • jennycherie December 31, 2009, 10:53 am

    Posted By: facethemusicWhen we’re truly honest with ourselves we can assess our efforts in the various arenas of our lives and determine where we might sincerely be doing “enough” which I think could fairly be defined as “our best at our current level of understanding and capability” and where we aren’t.

    That is so true. This reminds me a bit of daisy’s post as well – both have been on my mind so I guess they kind of melt together. Sometimes, I feel like this busy part of life where we are raising kids and running everywhere (and training/preparing our kids for the kind of adults they will become) is also a training for us – – to show us just how much we are capable of when we are CERTAIN we couldn’t possibly do one more thing. I think if we survive this training and use it to increase our capacity to do good, then we will be able to use our time well when we have a lot of it. Tracy – your family has had an amazing time of this recently – could you ever have imagined HOW MUCH your family could do SO FAST?? I hope you all have a real sense of accomplishment for all the REALLY hard work you’ve done — doing ALL you could so the Lord could bless you with the rest.

  • CamBendy January 2, 2010, 3:42 am

    Daisy are you the same as Julie? I get so confused. Did I ask that before? Anyway I really love this article. Except that I don’t think I do enough. Do I? Isn’t it good to keep trying?

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