September 14, 2011
Sufficient. "Enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end," says Merriam-Webster. "Adequate for the purpose; enough," says Dictionary.com. On the surface the term speaks of having what one needs, but underneath there's often a hint of perceived lack. Don't we want more than mere sufficiency?
Just "enough" sounds like it might imply scarcity. We want more than enough. More food on our plates, more shiny toys in our possession, more clothing in our closets. In the way we see ourselves, too, there can be the drive for more-than-enough. We hold ourselves to impossible standards, afraid that if we are just "enough," we're not doing all that we can or all that we should. There's a way in which "enough" doesn't feel like -- well, enough.
During this month of Elul, as the Days of Awe come hurtling toward us at light speed, I'm working on cultivating my sense that what I am, what I bring, is enough. Even if I'm not living up to some imagined super-mom ideal, the love and attention I bring to my son are enough. Even if our high holiday services aren't exactly perfect for everyone who attends, the love and attention I bring to the community are enough.
Enough doesn't have to imply "just barely." What if we embraced the sense that we're living up to everything we need to be? What if we replaced the word "enough" with "plenty:" what I'm doing is plenty; what we have is plenty; there's plenty to go around? What if "enough" connoted abundance, all our needs met and our wants fulfilled?
I found my way this morning to I Am Enough: a self-kindness collaborative. Here's the first post, from Tracey Clark, which explains how the collaborative came to be (and which also features a truly stunning image by Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.) The stories posted there are simple, direct, and moving. They're also all written by women, which makes sense to me; women often swallow a lifelong diet of subtle pressure to be more, to do more, to see ourselves as perennially not-enough. I know that men struggle with this too. And we don't have to.
Seeing ourselves as enough is a radical act. During this season of teshuvah, as we aspire to repair our broken relationships with ourselves, with others, with the world, with God, this is one place we might choose to begin. What would it feel like to know that we are enough?