Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with amazing epiphanies, thoughts, or ideas that I have to write down. Sometimes I wake up and feel the need to pray for someone or something, so I do. But sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to anxiety- thoughts of all the things I am not doing well and all the ways I need to DO MORE.
Several nights ago, I woke up with this type of anxiety. All I could think about was how I was doing all kinds of things, but doing none of them well. As I lay in bed thinking about the multitude of spinning plates in my life, I suddenly saw them all crashing to the ground and shattering around my feet. It was a defeating feeling.
The plates in my mind shattered into a million questions about my life…
Am I doing this parenting thing right?
Are my kids are eating enough vegetables?
Did I call Jessica back? I hope I didn’t hurt her feelings.
I should really text Janice to catch up.
Phil and I should have more date nights.
How do we make more time for the two of us?
Should I go back to work full-time? Life keeps costing more and more…
I should visit my grandma more often…
All the things I had been balancing seemed to need evaluation and, apparently, two o’clock in the morning was when I needed to do it. Even if I could evaluate my life well in the middle of the night, these types of questions and thoughts could go on and on. In the light of day, I can see that at the core of the subconscious questions that surface in the middle of the night, there is one underlying question: am I enough?
As I get older, I can identify my bent for asking this question. It is something I continually fight.
But here’s the thing: I will never be good enough. None of us will.
If I spend the rest of my life trying and trying to perfectly keep all the plates spinning, I will be a very disappointed human being, because there is always more I could do. There will always be more that I could be. I am always going to fail at something. No one can keep the plates spinning perfectly all the time.
And here’s something I’ve learned from all the time we’ve spent counseling others and walking with people: the people you think have it all together- they don’t. Crazy, right? You might already know that, but I was shocked when I figured it out.
No one has it all together all the time. Shiny Instagram accounts may say otherwise, but don’t let that fool you. We are all in this beautiful mess together. We are all trying to figure it out.
And we are enough. Just as we are. We don’t need to prove our worth. We are God’s gift to himself. Our very existence pleases God. We don’t need to do, achieve, or prove anything. We are His sons and daughters. Don’t most parents love their kids no matter what they say or do? I love my kids just because. I love them because they are mine. Their very existence brings me joy. Our very existence brings God joy.
The idea of being accepted just as we are can be super confusing because it’s the opposite of everything we are taught as kids: If you are good and play by all the rules, you are rewarded; if you achieve, you are rewarded. If you work hard, you are good. But I’m finding that accepting the fact that I’m enough-without all the striving and plate spinning- this is where the real joy can be found. It’s the exact opposite of how I’m wired, but I am learning, slowly, that my worth is not in what I can do or achieve or how well I can keep all the plates spinning. I am enough because God says so.
I’m not saying that we don’t do our best and put effort into doing everything we do. What I am saying is this: life isn’t about OUR ability to hold it all together or to do all the right things. If anything, it’s really more about our ability to let go. It’s about our ability to give things over to God when they feel out of control or when life doesn’t go as planned. Its much more about releasing than it is about holding on for dear life. It’s about open palms and open hearts instead of pushing forward, fists clenching and hearts racing.
It’s about releasing control of our desire to look good in everyone else’s eyes and becoming accountable to an audience of one. So, this is something I am trying to do more and more- release the things I can’t control, stop trying to please others, and be a little more gracious with myself. And when the million questions arise in the middle of the night, I am trying to offer them to God in a prayer of release, get a good night’s sleep, and see if they still hold weight in the morning.
There is so much grace. More than enough to go around, really. When you feel like you are failing at everything, know that you are in good company and you are not alone. We’ve all been there. When you feel like you can’t keep the plates spinning, it’s okay. Maybe some of them needed to be dropped in the first place. We will never have it all together. We will never have “arrived.” And that’s the beauty of the whole thing. We are loved, accepted, and enough just as we are, plates dropping and all.