Enough with “Never Enough” {Take Heart…in the Quest for Wholeness}

enoughwithneverenough

This past week, I sat in the orthodontist’s chair for the last time. The doctor took pliers to the brackets and snapped them off of my teeth one by one.

He had done that to my skepticism, too.

I had come to him a mess after two and a half years in braces at another provider. Teeth that should have curved around instead formed a straight line out across my lip. My bicuspid was so far gone from the arch that its root just about poked through my gums. A periodontist had told me I’d need to try a bone graft and even then may end up having to get it pulled. I’d gone through two unnecessary dental surgeries and rough recoveries with swelling, infection, and dry socket. My mouth was tender and so was my sense of trust.

Then, I kicked myself while I was down. Why did I get the braces at all? My husband had told me he didn’t think I needed them. Why hadn’t I left my bite as it was, dealt with the little bit of crowding and the off-center mid-line, and saved myself all those years of awkward smiles and kisses, saved myself from looking worse than when I started, saved the tooth with the protruding root that would possibly have to be removed?

If there’s one thing the whole fiasco had done, it was to show my perfectionist self the virtue of “good enough.”

My new doctor studied the X-rays and photographs, recorded precise measurements, outlined a plan and handed me tissue after tissue when depression and doubt locked in like the stubborn brackets and wire.

“It’s not going to be perfect…” he told me. I knew there was no way to make my smile completely symmetrical due to the fact that I’m not a teenager anymore, not to mention  the extractions I’d endured before finding my way to his office. He went on, “…but it will be good.”

I’ve long dealt with the “never enough” sickness just like the rest of our culture, so I nodded my head the other day as I came across a quote from Lynne Twist in Brené Brown’s “Daring Greatly”:

“We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of….Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack….This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life….”

In my saga, my own “never enough” surfaced in my insistence that I get braces when they weren’t really necessary. I’ve seen the “never enough” of other people come out in other ways. I remember not too long after we’d moved into our home, someone asked my husband and I if we had a dream house in mind. “We love where we are,” my husband said with a puzzled look on his face.

Sure, maybe we’d like a little more land or an extra upstairs bedroom or a garage on the side of the house instead of the front. But to focus on what this house doesn’t have would be to look past the gorgeous craftsmanship, the quality fixtures, the ample square footage and the fact that it sits right in the middle of our dream life…a walkable town with easy access to our son’s school, the library, restaurants, shops and all kinds of seasonal festivals. This is dream house enough for us. It’s not only good enough– it’s more than enough.

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Then there’s the scene of two authors chatting at a party thrown by a billionaire friend. There, Kurt Vonnegut jabbed his friend Joseph Heller and told him that the host of the party “had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.” I’ve never gotten over how Heller responded: “Yes, but I have something he will never have…enough.”

Emotional wholeness eludes until we can say we have enough, we are enough, this is good enough…enough! Ironically, the vulnerability of physical distress or sickness can have a way stripping us down bringing us to that place of enough.

You know what Brené Brown calls the opposite of the “never enough” mentality? She calls it “wholeheartedness.” It has to do with the courage to be imperfect and an openness to life even though it offers no guarantees, like our Take Heart focus these last several weeks, like my orthodontic treatment these last four years.

Right on schedule, visit by visit over the next 18 months, my doctor worked the miracle. He pulled my wayward tooth back into the curve, closed my horrid gap and made my bite line up. My mid-line will always be off and my smile will always sit a bit asymmetrical, but it is good, more than enough.

On de-band day, some brackets held tight, bonded complacent from the four years of drama and trauma. The doctor and my friend, his assistant, rocked them back and forth, chiseled them away, and little by little the chains fell off, braces and perfectionism.

{What experiences have revealed/transformed your own “never enough” attitude?}

 

Thanks for visiting Message in a Mason Jar where we’re finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers. To get posts delivered to your email box or blog reader, enter your email address on the homepage sidebar or enter http://messageinamasonjar.com/feed/ in your reader.

This week in our Take Heart series we’re talking about the quest for wholeness, whether physical challenges illness or emotional struggle. Body and spirit together form our complete nature, designed by God. I hope you’ll take time to read the amazing array of posts from our guest writers this month and let us know what resonates with you and your experience.

A Mean Game of Telephone {Introducing the Take Heart Series}

{Welcome to Message in a Mason Jar where we’re finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers! To get posts delivered to your email box or blog reader, enter your email address on the homepage sidebar or enter http://messageinamasonjar.com/feed/ in your reader.}

We can play a mean game of telephone with ourselves. My friend said it so well. We start with one single disappointment, little or big, and we tell it to ourselves again and again, each rehearsal of the hurt loosening the event from its real place and time and working it into the wiring of our minds.

The dream left behind in youth, the grief of barrenness, the postnatal hormones that take us to the edge of crazy, the practicality of family life clouding former romance, the arguments, the abandonment, the relative whose words tear down, the crumbling church and cold-shouldered friends, the messy nest, the frail body– any of these stories can twist in the secret conversation of our minds, turning fast from discouragement to despair, ending up a jumbled version of what we started with. But when we share out loud what’s been going through our minds, we open ourselves to real conversation, to words that keep the original hurt in perspective, to words that help us take heart.

Over the last few weeks, as I’ve been looking for hints on how to become a more cheerful giver, I’ve noticed my lack of resilience in times of discouragement. In those times, I desperately need others’ words to break up my own inner dialogue. It takes the people around me and it takes the Word of God. As my husband and I have begun reading through the Bible with the family this year, I’ve come across a phrase again and again, a phrase worth repeating.

“Take heart,” Jesus said to the paralyzed man lying on a mat, “your sins are forgiven.”

“Take heart,” He said to the woman with the blood disorder, “your faith has healed you.”

“Take heart,” He said to scattered friends wary of their future, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In each encounter, pain and guilt and fear could have been the end of the story. But then Jesus says, “Take heart.” Maybe your self-talk is so loud that you can’t hear Him saying this in your own situation, but when sisters share testimonies of His comfort in disappointment, of His miracle in impossibility, of His work in a troubling situation, we help each other stop the telephone effect.

This February, at Message in a Mason Jar, we will be talking about how to take heart in the context of life’s disappointments. Each week, we will hear the stories of at least two different women, including their walk through discouragement and despair and how Jesus met them in it, saying, “Take heart.”

On Tuesdays during the series, we’ll invite you to link up with your own Take Heart story based on the theme of the week (1- Growing a Family, 2- Romance, 3- Kinship/Community, and 4- Self-Care/Wholeness). On Thursdays, along with the story shared, we’ll offer fun and thoughtful giveaways that will encourage you to take heart in your own struggles.

{In what area of your life do you need to experience Jesus’ words, “Take heart”? How does your self-talk compare to His choice of words in these verses?}