on “enough” …and other things.

I’m going to tell you a story today. Another one. Or maybe a few. I don’t tell you my stories because I think my life is earth-shattering and fascinating to you. I tell you my stories because… they’re all I have. I learn from them. And I hope they bring you hope or encouragement, too.

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Andrew told me a couple weeks ago that he was “very satisfied” with me. It was kind of in a general context, not specifically related to anything I can remember. This speaks directly to the “enough” button in my heart. I struggle constantly with the fear that I am not, have never been, will never be enough. So hearing those words from his mouth was soothing to my heart.

Sort of.

Except…

Except… the last few weeks, I’ve been frickin’ on fire. ON. FIRE. All my daily, weekly, and monthly checklist items are done, as well as every single other thing I can think of to put on my to-do list. Its bizarre. I’ve run out of normal stuff to write on my list and started making crap up. I’m cleaning and decluttering spaces I haven’t touched (except to add junk to) since we moved in. I’m cleaning scuff marks off walls. Today I vacuumed the ceiling. True story.

It’s an illness or something. I don’t have time or energy to devote to this nonsense.

But still, I’m doing it. And, miraculously, my mothering is still on point, if I do say so myself. My kids are doing all the things they ordinarily do, and I’m handling all the crazy and any defiance with creativity and consistency. I’m finding stuff that’s working to discipline, which isn’t a small miracle, given my kids’ genetic propensity toward obstinance.

(I swear I’m not saying this to brag. I’m coming to a point here. Promise. Also, please note, NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL FOR ME.)

So randomly, inexplicably, I’m at my absolute, very best. Record best. And I feel kind of good, since I feel like, at least for now, I have my stuff together. But it also feels manic. Some of the busyness is about distracting myself from worrying about the baby. Some of it is simply trying not to fall asleep. I’m so tired lately, I’ve basically become narcoleptic. If I stop moving, I zonk out. And if I zonk out, the kids are almost certainly going to burn the house down.

So when I hear that I’m actually, truly, finally enough, I start to panic.

See, I know this isn’t sustainable. It can’t be. My energy will only go down and entropy will rule again for a good long while. This isn’t my first rodeo—I know how messy it all gets the last few months before baby and the first few months after. Third and fourth trimesters are killer.

So if I’m only enough at my all-time peak, what than? What if I drop all of the balls? Well, then I go back to regular. Regular, ordinary, never-gonna-be-enough me.

Is there grace enough for that?

Sunday school answer says “of course!” …but deep down in my gut? I don’t know. I just don’t. I mean, I’ll keep slogging through, of course. But somehow it seems demoralizing.

Was it easier when “enough” was strictly unattainable?


And why is Andrew’s assessment of my enoughness so key, anyway? [For the record: If I were to ask him right now, he’d tell me the concept of “enough” doesn’t even register as meaningful and when he said he was “very satisfied,” it wasn’t about me killing myself over the scuff marks on the walls.] Why is he the one I have to please? I mean, there are other people whose opinion should matter more. Like, I don’t know… God. And mine should possibly count, too, at least a little. But it’s my husband’s that I strive for.

If I’m being honest, God’s almost doesn’t count. I can’t possibly meet holiness as a standard. And the acceptance granted through Christ is freely available, so it says nothing at all about me. (Please don’t tell anyone I said that.)


..and then I actually talked to Andrew about it. After like a week of stewing.

He laughed at me.

“Of course. Because anything bad I say is about you and who you are inside. And anything good I say is about you’re circumstances and what you do. ‘Oh, the house! I’m so satisfied by the house. So… satisfying. The house.'”

Um.

Mind=blown.

And then he says, “Me? I’m the other way around. ‘Oh, Andrew, you’re so helpful and good looking.’ Yep. I know. ‘Oh, Andrew! I’m so pissed at you!’ I know. Because that thing happened. Are you over it yet? Because I was over it before you finished talking.”

The man kills me.

I mean, he’s not wrong. I expect him to be right in general… on rational topics. But when he whips out a dead-on insight about my emotional life? It freaks me out a little. He’s right. I internalize the bad and externalize the good. And since he goes the other way, I need to take his compliments and criticism the way he means it.

I have no idea how I’m going to shift this, but I think knowing about it is a good step one.


Immediately following that discussion, this hit me:

I’m hopelessly in love with each of my kids. Their each abundantly more than enough, as far as I’m concerned. Because their mine and their awesome. What if one of them wrote off my adoration? “She’s my mom. She has to think I’m awesome. It doesn’t count.”

It would break my heart if they discounted my opinion of them because I’m “obligated.” If they didn’t see that because I’m the mom, I see them at their worst and am still hopelessly in love. My opinion is more reflective of reality because of my position, not fewer.

…God is the ultimate Parent. I can’t write off His acceptance because it’s freely available and not based on what I do.

It’s based on Whose I am.

His opinion is more reflective of reality because of His position. Not fewer.


 

A’ight. So… reverse the things I internalize and externalize. Stop discounting God’s opinion of me.

Easy-peasy.

Sigh.

Paying attention is hard sometimes. If y’all have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

 

thoughts converge

There’s a lime-sized baby floating around in my basketball-sized belly. I popped over a week ago, well before the end of trimester 1. Looking like 5 months at 11 weeks. Thanks, fourth-slash-fifth baby!

My fears for the lime/baby have been unreasonably large for the last twenty-four hours. The story I’m making up is that I’ll go in roughly two and a half weeks from now and they won’t find a heartbeat. Then the ultrasound will find a baby that’s been lost for a couple of weeks. And then I’ll wait to miscarry. Then I will, and it’ll be horrific and far more physically traumatic than losing Hope, because the baby is bigger than Brian’s pinky toenail this time—closer to the size of his foot.

I lost a couple months to depression after Hope, then a couple more to early pregnancy, and the three kids I DO have basically haven’t seen a fully functional mother since summer. I have no idea how long this would take me down. I’ve counted four children since shortly after Brian was born (very disconcerting in public spaces to come up one short all. the. time.) But if I lose babies four and five? Perhaps I should take the hint and take up sudoku instead, because clearly raising four children is not what I’m made for.

This is the kind of crazy I’ve been talking myself down from the last little while. Note to the several adults living in the house with me on vacation: this is why my lack of words and margin. It’s not you. It’s me.

 


 

This morning was to be my fifteenth consecutive morning run. But on my fourteenth, I recognized a twinge that, in 2008, signaled a stress-fractured tibial plateau. I pushed through then, and it set off a chain of events that mark that one stupid 5K (!!!) as the single worst thing that’s ever happened to my health.

God designed our bodies well. Some kinds of pain are warning lights that we shouldn’t ignore. So as much as I wanted to run this morning, I chose to walk a little bit instead, in order to honor the body that works pretty well for me and the good God who designed it with wisdom and warning lights. (Please note how I just took a day off jogging as an honest act of worship.)


 

On the drive between where I run and where I drink coffee that’s become part of my morning liturgy over the last two weeks, I was pondering both my Big Fears and my disappointment over not being able to run today. (Or perhaps this week, which means it may be the end of summer before I run again, based on location and circumstances.) Then, in the healing way He sometimes does, the Holy Spirit connected the two. And I wish it was assurance that the good God who designed my body to warn me before I hurt myself badly also designed my body to hold, grow, and deliver this child alive and healthy in July, but that wasn’t what I heard. No, the thing I was impressed by was His goodness, wisdom, and mercy, regardless of outcomes. Am I still nervous about this baby I desperately want to meet this summer? Oh, man. But my hope doesn’t lie in a healthy fourth (-slash-fifth) baby. My hope is in the person of God, who knit each of my five babies together inside me and numbered the days of every one of them. His goodness is no less if the story I made up about the loss of this one comes true, and it is no greater if I deliver yet another crazy awesome Chapman baby in six months.


I still wish I knew how this was going to play out. But God knows. And eventually, so will I.