There were usually two situations in my life where I heard the words: “That’s enough.” The first was when I was fighting with my older or younger brother. “That’s enough” was the command by mom or dad to cease and desist. The immediate retort when I was the victim avenging the wrong or perceived wrong: “NO, it is not ENOUGH. They haven’t suffered as much as I suffered.” Somehow, in the world of getting even, ENOUGH is not a vocabulary word that works. The other time for enough was when I was dishing out the ice cream for the late night snack. Mom would look disapprovingly at the bowl that I was eagerly filling with ice cream – and say: “ENOUGH!” Funny thing, to my sweet tooth and hungry stomach, it never looked like enough.
As we begin this holy season of Lent, I invite you to reflect on the question, “What is enough?”
• What is enough entertainment?
• What is enough money?
• What is enough success?
• What is enough stuff?
• What is enough love?
For most of us, the unconscious synonym for “enough” is “more”. That certainly was my experience growing up, and if I am honest, is still a part of what I am tempted toward.
“I don’t know exactly how friends I need, but I know it is more than what I have now. I don’t know how much money I need, but I know it is more than I have now.” I don’t know how much (fill in your own blank here) success… \popularity… \stuff… \love I need, but I am pretty dang sure that it is MORE than I have right now.
But here is the great truth about MORE. You never get there. More begets a desire for even more. And even more. And in that frantic search for more, we miss what is most real, because we are always looking beyond what we already have and possess.
One of the blessings of the threefold Lenten discipline is that it helps teach us what enough is.
• As I take more time for silence in prayer… I sit in the presence of the One who is enough
• As I leave unfulfilled some of my appetites and desires in my fasting… I realize how much I did not need the chocolate or the snack or the facebook app on my cell phone…
• As I give away more of the money that fills my wallet and the stuff in the closet… I realize that what St. Basil said centuries ago still rings true. “The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”
Jesus knew this truth. As long as we define “enough” as “more” – we’ll never know the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. We’ll never know the joy of not being owned by our possessions.
What would it be like to go through this Lent with a different phrase in our hearts? Instead of the questions: Is it enough? Do I have enough? When will I have enough? What would happen if we lived each day saying: “I have just enough…”
• I have just enough time to spend with my son’s and his homework before dinner…
• I have just enough money in my wallet to give to the beggar who asks in the Walgreens parking lot, or to SS. Peter and Paul Homeless shelter during Homelessness Awareness week at UMSL.
• I have just enough shoes in my possession to contribute to the Shoe Man challenge project.
• I have just enough patience to listen to a roommate’s struggle with her family; with his relationship; with their difficulty in a particular class.
• I have just enough time before my next class to rest in the presence of the One who is always ENOUGH for me.
And if we do so, I suspect that life will be much different at the end of these 40 days – because we will KNOW that God is always enough…