Monday, May 2, 2016

You Are NOT Enough

"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon."
~ John 15:5-7, MSG ~

I see a great deal of well-intentioned encouragement floating around these days.  Words intended to assuage our angst as a parents, assuring that, "You are enough!"

I know those sentiments are directed at all of the uncertainty and self-doubt we feel in our journey of raising a child with a chronic illness or disability.  I would tell you that I have experienced far too many days feeling inadequate.  I fall short in my patience with my children, craving just a little space for myself, but then feeling guilty that I haven't poured out more for them.  I wonder if I am making sound medical decisions or if I should be deferring to the doctors more.  I don't want to be a helicopter parent, but I want to balance that with being a loving and compassionate mother.  I try my best, but often wonder if I am getting this parenting thing right.

That's when I find myself in complete disagreement with those who are trying to tell us, "You are enough!"  At the risk of offending those sharing this well-intentioned sentiment, I am NOT enough.  You are NOT enough.  None of us are enough.

I do not have the right words or actions for everything that besets my children.  When my child crawls into my lap crying that people are calling her the "R-word," I am not enough to remove that pain.  Few things have made me feel more helpless than the times my children have been hospitalized.  Then there have been the times where I tried to call my children's bluff on "faking it" in certain situations, only to feel the deep guilt of later discovering something truly was wrong.

I fall short daily.  Yet, there is one remedy alone that has truly set me free from that parental guilt -- Full reliance on Jesus.  If I were enough, I wouldn't need a Savior.  I don't even come close to being enough when it comes to making up for how I daily offend God with my snarky selfishness.  Throw in my physical battles with painful arthritis as well as my chronic clinical depression, and there are many days where I feel in a very real way that I cannot even take my next breath without Him.

While Jesus reminds me that apart from Him I can do nothing, He also reveals to me in His Word that He is a relational God who created relational people.  None of us were ever meant to be enough on our own.  It doesn't take long in the parenting journey to discover that we need the help of others -- their experience, their advice, their insights, their wisdom, their encouragement, and their comfort.  Like the bucket brigade lines that used to put out fires in days of old, those who have gone before us on certain experiences pass their wisdom down to us, so we can one day pass that same wisdom down the line to another.  There are so many important things I would have failed to advocate for with my children had another parent not enlightened me.  Pushing to have our son be the youngest child in our state approved for home venipuncture back in his earliest years would have never advanced without intelligent input from others, because I was not enough.  Duking it out with educators over certain special education accommodations for my daughter would have never occurred had I not had the wise counsel of others, because I was not enough.  And the list goes on.

Friends, God humbles me daily, reminding me that I am not enough.  Neither are you.  But the Lifter of our heads is always waiting their to gently lift us and work in His glorious fullness as we let go of trying to be enough.  HE ALONE is the only One designed to be perfect in every situation and circumstance.  He is reaching out for us to take His hand in the messiness of our lives and redeem our inadequacies.  Will we grab hold in complete trust?

PRAY:  Forgiving Father, too often I operate as if everything that happens in my child's life is up to me.  Help me to balance diligence with proper perspective.  Remind me that You are in control when my life feels so out of control.  Grant me the humility to realize that I am not enough, but to find boundless comfort in knowing that you are.

~ Barb Dittrich