“Don’t pull all the toys out. Johnny, please keep the toys in the basket.” Three-year-old Johnny looked me straight in the eye with his baby blues. With a mischievous smile, he dropped one toy after another out of the basket. He knew exactly what he was doing. Little Lila smiled from ear to ear, tilting her head in a most affectionate way, all the while pinching her baby sister. Lila knew in her heart she was not being kind.
On a recent flight, I sat next to a very interesting 45-year-old man from California. We chit-chatted for the first few minutes and eventually asked about each other’s family. His eyes widened as I mentioned I have six adult children and ten grandchildren. He responded with ... “My wife and I just don’t know that we want children.” I replied, “All I can say, is having children has been the best decision we ever made. And ... I won’t even get started on the grandchildren.” He smiled politely and then switched the subject to his passion for sports. Reflecting, I wish I would have expressed my deeper thoughts: “Children are a gift from God. Having children expands our souls and our capacity for love. Having children demands sacrifice, but brings great joy. Having children cracks open our hearts. And yes, as with all love, having children leaves us vulnerable to having our hearts broken—but love is always worth it." (And for men and women who long for children and never receive this gift, we know God provides other opportunities for their hearts to deepen in love.)
Ten years after her death, people still comment on my mother’s hospitality. “I don’t know how she did it. Whenever we stopped by, she could take two pieces of chicken and make it into a complete meal for eight.” Mom sent no one away without an invitation for at least a cup of coffee and a roll. She always commented, “People don’t care about the food, they just want to be together.” Lacking her confidence, I think, “There’s not enough. It won’t be good enough. The house isn’t clean enough.” This slides into, “I don’t have enough.” And then descends into, “I’m not good enough.”
In this Sunday’s Gospel, the disciples were operating from a “not enough” mentality as they reported to Jesus that, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have.” Certainly, they were thinking, “We’re not enough, and we don’t have enough, to feed this many people. Let them go away.” But Jesus responds differently: "Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied.” Jesus took the “not enough” and blessed it into “more than enough.” The disciples had forgotten Who they were with—Who is enough.
We default into “not enough,” when we believe we lack food, money, time, talent ... you name it. Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, writes: “Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyper-aware of lack. ... We spend inordinate amounts of time calculating how much we have, want, and don’t have, and how much everyone else has, needs and wants.” Many of us wake up thinking we’ve had “not enough” sleep, approach the day with “not enough” time, work with “not enough” resources, parent with “not enough” energy or skill, live with “not enough” love.
The truth is none of us is “enough.” The antidote for “not enough” is not daydreaming, riches (many rich people still chase enough), or even minimalism. The remedy rests not in seeking “enough,” but in having Jesus Christ at our center and asking His blessing upon each day, each person, and each situation in our lives. Jesus is the only way to enough and not just enough, but the way to an abundant, grace-filled life. Remember, the crowd ate and had their fill, with twelve wicker baskets of fragments—that’s grace!
Parents and grandparents name grace—God’s abundant presence—each time we ask His blessing and then trust in enough. We have enough wisdom to make good decisions for our children/families; enough faith to lead our children to Jesus; enough money to buy the necessities; enough time to pray and play with our children. We have enough, but only in Christ. Otherwise, we lack everything. Mom. Dad. With Jesus, you have enough! You have enough to raise your children well. You have enough for love to reign in your homes. You have enough to serve Jesus, wherever He calls.
Scrambling for “enough” leaves us exhausted, defeated, and depressed. Living with faith leads to peace, satisfaction, and joy. My mom was an optimistic, faith-filled woman, who found her cup not only full but overflowing. I don’t think she ever spent a day focusing on lack but approached life with grace and abundance. She had enough. She had Jesus. In Christ, we each have more than enough. This Sunday, as we come forward for communion, remember we are receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus, Who is infinitely enough. Now, that’s good news!
When have you felt enough or not enough?
How has faith helped you be enough for your family?
Photo by Raphael Rychetsky on Unsplash
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To connect with Mary Pedersen: www.marypedersen.com
Breath. We don’t think about breath until it’s almost gone. Or until we struggle for breath after exercising. Or gasp for breath after being submerged under water. Or when our breath has been knocked out of us. A friend recently fell and landed in the hospital with eight fractured ribs. Each breath caused severe pain to his broken rack. He would grasp his side to cough or exercise his lungs. Ten days out, he was still panting after a short walk or rising from a chair. After an emergency room visit, the doctor confirmed a collapsed lung. The x-ray showed the left lung flattened, containing not a bit of oxygen. Doctors drained the fluid around his lung and ordered exercises for expanding his left lung. With limited breath, healing proves hard and slow.
After a cup of black coffee, a handful of M & M’s, and rich conversation, it was time to leave. As I stood, Barb grabbed my hands and pleaded, “Don’t go.” “Stay just a little longer.”
After my mother’s stroke, as she was dying, I held her hands tightly as my heart pleaded silently, “Don’t go.” “Stay just a while longer.”
We can just imagine the disciples’ grief and pleading as Jesus spoke of His Ascension, “Don’t go.” “Stay with us just a bit longer.” Yet Jesus “parted from them and was taken up to heaven” (Luke 24: 51).
They say, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Though we feel the sorrow immediately, the sweetness of departure emerges slowly.
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.