thoughts on "enough"

I’m gonna be honest without giving specifics, okay? We’re in a rough patch right now (and by we, I mean me, Gabe, and the girls). I’m just going to lump it all into a mild (relatively speaking–it doesn’t seem all that mild at the moment) version of post-traumatic-stress disorder (the “trauma” being a heart attack, reverse culture shock, a trampoline accident, hospital bills, etc) with a hefty dose of spiritual attack thrown in.

(I love parentheses!!)

We’ve had some challenges and trials lately to be sure, and while we’ve appeared to navigate through them pretty okay, I think there’s a lot of residual yuck that’s still hanging on and manifesting itself in some really unpleasant/uncomfortable ways. We’re braving new territory here, folks. And I’m not really handling it well. Much. At all. But I’m clinging to God, and that’s always a good thing.

So that’s that.

In other news, we had a really great community group meeting (small group from church) at our house tonight. We talked a lot about the American Dream & what does God really want from us & love vs. sacrifice & the concept of “enough.”

It reminded me of something I read in a book (another book!) this week, and I wanted to share it and maybe get your thoughts. The book is called a life of being, having, and doing enough (Wayne Muller). I’ll be honest. I started reading it word-for-word, then skimmed for a bit, and then super-skimmed the rest of it. It just wasn’t doing much for me. I may try it again sometime, because I think there’s some good stuff there.

One chapter, though, really, really spoke to me, and I’d like to share some of it here. I have no idea how much of someone’s book you’re allowed to post online, so I hope sharing parts of six paragraphs isn’t breaking the law. If so, please have mercy on me, Mr. Muller.

The chapter is called “Enough for Today” and starts on page 20 (quotes from the chapters in italics and my thoughts in [brackets]:

It is good for us to pause and reflect on how privileged we are to be able to carefully reflect on this essential question of what is, for us, enough. [so true, right?] There are literally billions of children, families, and communities all over the world for whom the issue of enough is not a meditation but a daily challenge to their life and death. [I met many of these children, families, and communities while we were in Cambodia.] The ways in which we honestly respond to that question have an undeniable, direct impact on the lives of those children. [In the past, I never, ever even considered that. Now I know it to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt. And that’s some big responsibility.]

Whenever we fear we may not have enough, we tend to hoard more than we need. This, of course, limits the food, energy, medicine, raw materials, and other resources available to the rest of our family. Twenty-five thousand children lose their lives every day for lack of clean drinking water, food, or inexpensive medicines costing less than a dollar. [This is the part that gets to me. It costs us so little to help someone so much.]

[Skipping some here… he talks about grappling with two questions] First, how do we know we have secured enough food, shelter, sanctuary, health, and security for ourselves and our loved ones? And second, as members of our global human family saturated with unnecessary suffering and death, what is enough for us to do, to give, to contribute? [This is the million-dollar question, eh?]

For those who can never be certain, when they awake in the morning, that they will have enough food, enough clothing, enough shelter, enough medical care, to keep themselves and their children alive through the end of this one day, sufficiency is not a matter of personal inquiry, it is a matter of life or death, a life of rising well before dawn to walk hours in both directions to fill their one unbroken container with enough barely drinkable water; to grow, find, borrow, forage–or, if they are so privileged, buy–enough rice, enough bread to keep their bodies alive one more day; to seek shelter from the elements, shade from the punishing midday sun; to barter, sell something–or someone–to procure whatever medicine or health care is required to keep their likely undernourished and dehydrated children healthy enough to contribute to their family’s daily survival. [Can you even imagine? Can you just try to imagine?]

[And then this clincher:] Were any of us forced to endure even one day’s experience of this life, the life of these billions of our sisters and brothers on the earth, we would undoubtedly rail in anger at the obvious injustice of it. [He goes on to say that for most of the world, there is no one…] who will ever make any of this–not today, not tomorrow, never ever–come out right.

This makes me sick. And sad. And full of what I believe is a very righteous anger (I’m floored by the number of times God mentions “justice” in the Bible). And a determination to devote my life to bringing justice and fairness and hope and Jesus and enough to those who are poor and oppressed.

I would love it if we could do this justice journey thing together. That doesn’t mean our journeys will look identical–they most certainly won’t–just so long as each of us is listening hard to our Father’s voice.

Holla if you’re with me. (and if you’re too old to use the word “holla,” you can still be with me, because I’m too old to use it too. I’m basically just saying to let me know, shout it out, let your voice be heard, that sort of thing.)

God, please give me the words–your words–in the days, weeks, months to come as we explore your heart for justice together. Amen.

60 thoughts on “thoughts on "enough"

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » consider yourself warned

  2. Danielle

    Sweet sister, I’m so with you on this. God smacked me in the head with Micah 6:8 around the beginning of the year, it kinda feels like a life-long to-do list to me.

    I’m praying for you all in your rough spot. Remember this dear friend, God is good even when we live in a not so good world, God is merciful even when it all seems like too much, and God is faithful, even when we run out of faith. Love your precious hearts!

  3. Ruth

    Holla! Sorry I just got around to reading this. I’m with ya – will be on my own journey of course, but that includes all the injustice in my own city. Detroit/Hamtramck is full of injustice & God has been putting it on my heart to do more. Praying about what steps to take next.

  4. Beth in Baltimore

    It’s the end of my day and my eyelids are barely staying up but I just want to take a moment to say – I’m so sorry life has been so hard. May God’s grace sustain you. And, I’m gonna join in. I’ve got some inner sorting to do…I don’t remotely have things figured out. I wonder where God is taking me. I wonder what’s next. It’s quite the journey!

  5. Angela

    Holla-ing, though I am definitely too old to use the word in public. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So right there with you, feeling the tension, knowing I’m privileged to even been in a position to feel the tension, overwhelmed by life with four kids even though I’m American and better off than 98% of the world, knowing there’s more, crying out to God to show me a better way, wash and repeat. Praying and having complete faith God will hear our cry and soften our hearts and open our eyes and move us to action. Thank you for sharing your heart…a friend directed me here today…so grateful. (And I like parentheses and ellipses too!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Jennifer Ekstrand

    My husband and I were both struck by “Whenever we fear we may not have enough, we tend to hoard more than we need.”

    Not something I had thought about, but it definitely resonates. We hold on to so much junk that we know is clutter because we “might need it someday”. (And I’m sure we cling to many things that we don’t need, but haven’t identified as “clutter”.)

  7. Kim

    You know I’m with you, no matter where it takes me. And to everyone reading, yeah, that’s terrifying, but the reward is so great. My favorite verse about justice is Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do what is right. Seek justice always. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause.” God is passionate about justice. You’re so right about that. I’m happy to see so many others are too, and I pray I can daily wake up and stay as passionate as I am today!

        1. Kim

          hahahahahaha, I’m cracking up! I have BEEN or HAVEN’T stopped… not sure what I was trying to say but I mixed them up. I have a great big “prayer board” and you are right in the middle of it! Maybe i was just trying to see if you really read comments here? ๐Ÿ™‚ Hahahahaha Sorry!

  8. Shanna Lehr

    Holla! We fight this justice thing with you! Lots of nights, I roll around in my bed at 3 am and I just know I’m supposed to be praying for the unjustness (is that a word?) of the world. So I do. It makes my heart ache, but not just ache, we’ve been called to action. So we give as well and support whenever we can, so absolutely friend, we are with you!

  9. brooke

    I get that no one understands my frustration – and why. I sound like poor pitiful me: “My husband & I have plenty, but he won’t let me give it away.”

    When I look at what we have – I want to give. He wants to keep ‘just in case’. I find myself believing the lie -the one that says we could ever build up “enough” to do us in case of emergency. Then I am disgusted with myself.

    I hear the voice that says “this is the life you chose when you chose to defy me and marry an unbeliever.” only I don’t know if its God talking to me (lest I blame Him for my situation) or if its the enemy – trying to given me a sense of helplessness.

    Dear Lord – I want to do my part. I want to honor my husband. I pray that one day those two won’t be mutually exclusive. Help me see the ways I can help in the here and now. And Lord prepare me for the incredible transformation we’ll have when this Saul of mine becomes a Paul and we set this world on fire for you. Thank you. For people like Marla to help prepare me for the journey. For the luxury I have and the ability to choose You, despite everything that glitters around me. Most of all for Your love and the salvation that comes through your Son. In His name, Amen

    PS – HOLLA!

    1. Marla Taviano

      I think you’re stinking amazing, friend. And just like the SUCKY trials my family is going through right now, I’m convinced that God will use it all somehow for his glory down the road. I’m envisioning something really awesome for you and J.

      And in my experience, God is not a “this-is-what-you-get-for…” kind of God, so tell the devil to shut the heck up. My haven’t-been-in-your-shoes advice? Love and honor your husband. What you can’t give materially, give in the form of prayer and encouragement and service.


    2. Bethany Peters

      My husband is a believer, but he doesn’t always want to give it all away either. Something about him being the provider and planning for our future babies and stuff like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I don’t know how you and your husband handle your finances. If you have “your” money or if it’s all “family” money. If you do have control over some money, you can start by making sacrifices with your own things. I think that’s even more difficult. For example–it’s easier for me to ask my husband if we can give some of our belongings away or write a check to a person in need because I don’t really feel it. It’s not that much of a sacrifice for me. I still get to buy groceries and laundry detergent. But say you have a certain amount you are allowed to spend on groceries each month. What do you do if you have any extra money leftover? You can use it to buy something fun for yourself or give it away.

      Or if you have a little side business to earn some extra spending money, you could give away some of your earnings. Or give some of your birthday or Christmas money away. Or if you normally highlight your hair, ask your husband if you can skip your next appointment and give away the money you would’ve spent.

      I do not do all of these things. They’re just ideas of ways your husband might allow you to give.

      And “giving” doesn’t have to be just things or money. Like what Marla said–you can give prayer, write notes to people, your time through service, etc.

      I think a lot of times when our husbands are not on board with us, we can quietly (and respectfully) do God-honoring things and they will casually watch us and see what God is doing in our hearts and hopefully that will someday make a difference.

      1 Peter 3: 1-2 “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

      I realize I don’t know you or your situation. I just wanted to share some ideas of ways you might still be able to give while also honoring your husband.

      1. brooke

        I appreciate your thoughtful response. I’m constantly praying for a way to help despite his resistance. Scratch that, I should be constantly praying for it. I mostly just resort to prayer when whining doesn’t work.

        God is faithful, when I do pray, to make a way. My hubby’s a hoarder, so anything not spent for the month gets socked away in the bank to grow mold – grocery budget included. We each have “personal spending” that the other doesn’t get a say in. I donate what’s left out of that each month (but yes, even that caused a disagreement).

        But maybe that’s my problem – I’m donating what’s left. Instead of giving, then “making due” with the rest myself.

        Since you don’t know me – I feel like I need to tell you that I love my husband very much. He’s very good to me. When we do our budget each month, we are in agreement on most everything. I love that God had blessed me with a hard-working husband who wants to provide me with a secure future. Truly.

        1. Bethany Peters

          Is President’s Day Monday February 20th? I was actually considering having Jack’s first birthday party that evening. I’m trying to find a time that will work with Mom and Dad because they are leaving to visit Stephi and Daniel on the day I originally wanted to have it. I miss you, too!!!

  10. Lori Mercer

    Holla! Praying….God make this tangible and real and in the name of Jesus Christ remove the evils that keep us blind and paralyzed with inaction. Show us ALL what actions you set for us to fight injustice. AMEN!

  11. janelle

    I’m old / 53….Holler, YELL….shout unto the LORD….kneel and quietly say….” I invite you today God…to take my life “….if we give our lives to Christ daily, we are fighting for justice…right there and then, where ever He calls us. I am overwhelmed to the point of almost paralyzation…on how to get Benson’s here, the red tape…..”how do I ” ? I can’t….how much is enough ? How ever much God asks me to do today. It is truly a faith walk, trusting God more than ourselves, our emotions, our feelings of hurt…they are His …..and we have to surrender to that. Africa starving, they are His, Cambodia being sold, they are His. He will tell us…what is enough ? What is He asking of us today ? Seek Ye First…the Kingdom of God….( I know you know that , I am just venting ) smile….
    It does not surprise me… your financial trouble…look how much you raised for the KINGDOM…satan is not happy. Physically….look at what you did to save the children physically…satan is not happy. Rone answered the call, the attacks got even worse….
    Our pastor said : ” why do things happen?” Because the world needs to see JESUS, our living in JESUS…..our response in JESUS, in the areas of sickness, finances, trials…etc.. Many times, in persecution…the GOSPEL was driven to places that would of never heard. They are hearing, watching …experiencing JESUS….thru your testimony.
    Testify means – PROOF….. you are PROOF, that “MY GOD SHALL SUPPLY” you are proof – ” He cares for the broken hearted” you are proof – ” go ye therefor into all the world and preach the gospel” in your home to your children – ” YOU ARE PROOF” ….let the little children come unto ME. ( should of emailed you ) sorry. love you, in a deep spiritual way…for your worth of HIS DEATH to you.

  12. Jess Carpenter

    Holla! Girl, we are so with you. We, too are realizing this struggle and tension and are living out one of the toughest challenges spiritually, physically, and financially as well. And my husband, who is a self-procralimed, non-reader has started reading, too. He just finished Radical, if that tells you anything of our extra dose of where we are. We are also living out people who have enough and more giving to us and holding our arms up during our journey.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Holla! We weren’t meant to do this thing alone, that’s for sure. I know you can testify to the awesome, humbling, amazing craziness of people rallying around you. Love the “holding your arms up” visual. Love you!

  13. Andrea

    Exactly. The needs of the world can sometimes..okay, all the time, seem overwhelming and just too much for us. But we have a big God. And He is eager to use us. My small group has been reading and watching a video series of “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns and he makes some great points. One recently emphasized is exactly what you say that I couldn’t agree with more: “I would love it if we could do this justice journey thing together. That doesnโ€™t mean our journeys will look identicalโ€“they most certainly wonโ€™tโ€“just so long as each of us is listening hard to our Fatherโ€™s voice.” We each have passions and gifts for areas of injustice and He has a different plan and hopes for you than for me. Let us seek His direction for us and continue doing good. Joining you in the journey.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I love that book. It was one of the first ones I read that really opened my eyes to the need around the world and how much I’d missed in the Bible about God’s heart for the poor.

      So glad to have you on the journey!

  14. Tracie

    Holla! I just started reading, “Inturrupted: An adventure in Relearning the Essentials of the Faith,” by Jen Hatmaker after I saw your book list yesterday mentioning her newer book, “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” I decided I wanted to read the first book because it said it explained what lead to the second book. I’ve only gotten in to the first couple of chapters. She explains that in 2007 she simply prayed a one line prayer which was, “God, raise up in me a holy passion.” She went on to say, “And from the depths of heaven, this is what I heard: You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of my sheep will die today because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are my youngest lambs, starving today in a world with plenty of food to go around. If you truly love Me, you will feed my lambs. My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you’re blessing blessed people and dreaming about your next house.”

    I so want God to give me a holy passion for the things He is passionate about but to be completely honest, I’m just not there yet because I’m so far removed from it all.

    I pray God (and this blog) will begin to stir my heart to be truly passionate about the things that God is passionate about.

    1. Marla Taviano

      LOVE Interrupted. And 7 is three times as good. It’s okay that you’re not “there” yet. God will get you there if you ask him to. BELIEVE ME.

      I’m glad you’re here, friend. I’m praying for a stirred-up heart for you too.

          1. Tracie

            I’ve finished Interrupted and am 1/2 way through 7. You’re right it is 3 times better! While reading I’ve really come to love this woman and the way she is so real and it reminds me of another woman I’ve really grown to love – Heather Hendricks. I noticed they both live in Texas. I wonder if they’ve ever met…Isn’t it funny how the internet draws us women together without ever meeting and is being used by God to change our hearts and lives. You are also someone I’ve come to love even though we’ve never met. I have no idea how I found your blog a year or so ago but through it I’ve been following Heather’s Blog and now, Jen. You three are being used by God to rock my world. Thank you so much for what you do!!!!

          2. Marla Taviano

            Being mentioned in the same sentence with Jen and Heather is a total honor. Thanks for your kind words, Tracie! (I’ll be talking about Heather on the blog Monday.)

  15. Megan at SortaCrunchy

    You’ve been on my heart and mind a lot lately. I’ve been wondering how you were coping with so much in so few months. Because our personalities are so similar, I know that if it were me, I would be positively hiding from everyone and everything because I would be so overwhelmed. Thanks for trusting us with the fact that things are a bit rough at the moment.

    Speaking of overwhelmed, I know you have talked about it a lot, but I think that’s the thing that keeps us paralyzed in inaction. So much need, so much injustice – where do we start? But that’s the great thing about moving forward in community – knowing that others are overwhelmed, but knowing that we can gird each other up and cheer each other on in steps big and small to chip away at injustice – across the globe and in our own communities.

    All of that is to say that I hear you on every level here, dear friend. I love you and basically HOLLA.

  16. Jolie

    I get it. Praying for you guys. I think the uncomfortable shift back into life here is in some odd ways a really, really good thing. God has to make us uncomfortable enough with who are now before we are so uncomfortable we yell OKAY CHANGE ME! DO IT! Until we get there, we’ll just continue to coast in our comfort.

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