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I am Enough
“What about you, as a person in your past, do you like better than yourself today?”
My wife asked that question as we had breakfast overlooking Elliott Bay in Seattle. She has learned to ask VERY intense questions, more challenging from our first exploratory questions of “what’s your favorite Doobie Brothers song?”
What do I like better about myself in the past than what I see in myself today? A loaded question? After all, If I liked something better in my past, that makes me, as a person, worse today, right? And if I’m worse today, why haven’t I done something to change?
I can’t think of ANYTHING I like better about myself from years gone bye that I like better today.
In fact, I would pose a different question; where have I been for so long?
Like reviewing a map retracing where you’ve been, matching memories to the road just traveled, I recalled being, way too often, a real jerk. When alone, my thoughts searching for motives for what I said and did, I could only muster, “this isn’t me. Deep down – somewhere, I am a happy, loyal, generous person.
But where is he?”
What freed me . . . to be me?
After exploring various solutions, listening to the caw of gulls diving for their salty breakfast, we came to the realization it was a culmination of many years of trying to please everyone around me. I simply wanted to be accepted, only to find it was never enough.
I wasn’t religious enough for my parents.
I wasn’t godly enough for churches I attended, pastored and served as deacon and youth leader.
I wasn’t ANYTHING enough for personal relationships that seemed to fail one after the other. I couldn’t fix enough emotions, I wasn’t around enough, I wasn’t obsessed enough.
I just wasn’t enough.
A constant, gnawing claw would not let go, “you must do more of what others want. You, alone, are not enough” causing me to bury the authentic, worthy part of me, deeper and deeper, hiding under insatiable, futile attempts to satisfy what others wanted, needed, or judged to be right.
I admit, things CAN and DO reach a dangerous temperature when frustrations build, boiling over from an imposed diagnosis of terminal inadequacy.
As a child, I didn’t lash out or run away, rather, I become a hermit, confining myself to the accepting, sanctity of my bedroom, my books, bed, and window as silent companions. My options were reduced to escape and isolate or admit I was nothing more than the disappointment everyone agreed I have become.
“That’s how you found me that December,” I confessed over breakfast in the great Northwest.
“No one had died, visibly, but I had died inside. I had given up. I had given up on people and myself. My wiring apparently did not meld with the general populous of women, religion, or humanity. Truth be told, I was relieved to stopped trying, and as a result, stop failing. I was prepared to be content with my weirdly-wired self. That’s how you found me.”
Brief and wonderful sunlight beamed through our window, blanketing the table with warmth and love. Sunlight, shining on a realization that only through someone’s offer of acceptance, was I free.
Someone said, “It’s enough. It’s enough for you just to be yourself.”
Someone had to demonstrate unconditional love that was real, not lip service to quoted verses, a vain attempt to carry out a failed form of righteousness. When I embraced that gift, took ownership of that treasured proclamation as true for me, I experienced profound, unimaginable, deep, deep breaths of relief that its ok to just be – enough.
I was finally, truly enough.
If only I could do that for others.
It’s enough motivates me to give more, be more, grow more.
Enough is not complacency or mediocrity.
Enough is security that if failure is the result of attempting – it’s ok, because I am still enough, in and of myself. With confidence, I try again.
If love were rejected now, I would no longer use that rejection to embalm the truth of my value. Within hurt and sadness, I would strive to see this relationship was not destined for me.
I can and will love again.
I am still enough.
When a friendship does not blossom as expected, I don’t feel desperation wondering what I should have done different. My response today is, “Good for you – I wish you well in your life – as I live mine.”
When an audience member turns in an evaluation lacking in glowing comments, I empathize with the unadorned fact, they may just be having a bad day or I might have been off during this singular session – without allowing it to follow me, day-after-day.
I am enough.
I need to convey this to my kids, “You are enough, in and of yourself. Your jobs, relationships, friendships, and experiences do not define you – they are merely a part of this thing called life. Whatever happens, you are still enough.
Secure in this value, you are free to give value and love to others.”
You are enough.
With clarity, you see the life of others and offer value for their existence.
They too are enough.
This is more than “pay it forward.” This enhances today, knowing the future will be here beyond our control, yet, through it all – I am and will be enough.
I smiled, looked at my wife and said, “Thank you. Your acceptance of my wiring and weirdness has set me free. You made me feel that I am enough.
You are the reason there is nothing about my past I feel better about than today. Thank you.”
The sun shined, as it does from time to time in Seattle.
And with it, warm smiles, as each look up.
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.