And thank God.
I was never meant to be enough. My spouse was never meant to be enough for me. My kids were never meant to be enough for me. My parents, siblings, and friends were never meant to be enough for me. None of my roles, jobs, or passions were meant to be enough for me. It was all meant to fall short.
So, I guess, maybe I’m just where I’m supposed to be. Maybe the precipice I referred to in my last post is the edge of accepting that I will never be what I want myself to be and that is precisely perfect.
In one of his many great works, C.S. Lewis discusses The Problem of Pain. The book is full of his typical wisdom, wit, and humility, but it’s challenging. For example, he writes:
Let me implore the reader to try to believe, if only for a moment, that God, who made these deserving people, may really be right when He thinks that their modest prosperity and the happiness of their children are not enough to make them blessed: that all this must fall from them in the end, and if they have not learned to know Him they will be wretched. And therefore He troubles them, warning them in advance of an insufficiency that one day they will have to discover. The life to themselves and their families stands between them and the recognition of their need; He makes that life less sweet to them.C.S. LEWIS
I’ve always been raised to believe that nothing I perceive as bad is ever the doing of God; it’s either the work of the devil or a consequence of a fallen world. I don’t disagree with those ideas, but… What if the key in this conversation is that what I perceive to be bad maybe… isn’t bad? What if the greatest story of God working my bad to my good is that all of my perceived bad reminds me that I am not, and all of my happinesses are not, enough? That what pleasure and fulfillment I find here will never, ever be enough? I will always feel that I haven’t done enough, done well enough, or been enough. I’m not supposed to be enough. I will never feel that my roles complete me, my attained dreams are as sweet as anticipated, my loved ones meet all my needs, or my passions fulfill me. They’re not supposed to be enough.
Don’t mistake me. I love doing things I’m passionate about and good at. I love feeling capable, smart, strong, and alive. I love being with my loved ones and joining in life with them. I was born to be in community. I am not suggesting that God wants to take everything and everyone that I love from me. God loves to gift me with joy and he loves me. He doesn’t want me to be miserable. He so badly doesn’t want me to be miserable that he tries, all the livelong day for all eternity, to show me how thoroughly happy, fulfilled, safe, and loved he can make me.
He is supposed to.
He is what, who, I was born for. Every piece of joy that I find here is a glimmer of what he has for me. Every moment of love that I give and receive here is a taste of his love.
All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it — tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest — if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself — you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, “Here at last is the thing I was made for.”C.S. LEWIS
So what if… When I lose those joys and loves, when I lose the things I thrive doing, when I lose the people who have my heart, when I’m frustrated because the job I work or the relationships I’m in don’t fulfill me… What if that serves to remind me that they were not meant to be enough? They will never satisfy, although it may feel that way for a time. Is it, maybe, his kindness, his goodness, his grace, his love that I’m not content with this life?
The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and pose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe, or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.C.S. LEWIS