I always thought I knew my limitations. And there were a great deal of them. I also had a fairly good grasp on my strengths, the things I excelled at or knew I didn’t really need a lot of help with. One thing I always had in spades was passion for my kids. This fierce, protective love that just seemed to have been planted in my heart the minute they were born, or maybe even before that.
During the late summer of 2012, I developed a fairly serious health condition. I didn’t realize it at the time (thank God), but this condition was going to last for a long time. About four months into it, I was pretty worn down. I still was doing my best to keep up with whatever demands life threw at me, as much as possible anyway.
One day in the middle of winter, my eldest daughter woke up with yet another cold sore. It spread from her lip and wound around the bottom of her nose in an angry blister. They’ve always bothered her, of course, but what made this even harder was that she was in her first year at a new school. Her first year in any school actually, since I had home-schooled her up until that year. So now she was going to be faced with classrooms, teachers, not-so-finished assignments, and the horror of trying to fit into the inner circle (aka the “cool crowd”) with a perceived disfigurement growing on her face. Ack.
I gave her the usual medicated creams and pep-talk and prayed for her on the way to school. I asked her if she was going to be okay, and looked her in the eye to be sure. She said she was fine and gave me a shy smile. Oh, I can’t stand this, I thought. Letting go is awful.
So as I’m pulling out of the parking lot, I sense Him speaking to me. Would you take the sore for her? He asked.
Now this is where every second of every day since the moment I first felt her roll over in my belly, my answer would have been a resounding Yes! But on that day, nearly covered in the relentless itching of a hive-like rash, abdominal pains that just wouldn’t go away, and discomfort that had had me in it’s merciless grip for months, I came up short. I failed.
In light of my constant need for authenticity and honesty, even if it’s just between Him and me and no one else would need to know (well, until today), I had to be truthful. If He was really asking me if I would take her cold sore, my answer would be no. I couldn’t take any more. Not one more thing. I just couldn’t.
Thus began my day of misery and despair at being faced with the unavoidable reality of my weakness. Not only was I obviously selfish beyond measure and so self-absorbed I had no right to even call myself “mother”, but perhaps the most rude awakening of all came with the stark realization that my love wasn’t enough.
I soaked in the bitter truth for hours that day, feeling sick to my stomach, on top of everything else. Later on, during my Dead Sea salt bath (which was a daily necessity), He showed up again. As usual, he seemed to have all the time in the world (must be nice.) What are you so upset about? He asked.
I explained the depth of the realization of my failure and incompetence.
And then I realized, this is precisely what He’s been teaching me for years. I need Him. I can’t function without Him. I was designed to need Him. I only operate with Him inside me. Abiding in Him and Him in me. Nothing I have is enough without Him, and that is not failure but a pure, unadulterated, and blissful discovery. I was never made to be alone. I was never made to be enough.
I rose from my bath, still covered in sores, patted dry (so as to not disturb the remnants of the Dead Sea), donned my bathrobe, raised my weakened arms to the air in triumphant inadequacy and declared, “My love is not enough and I am not sorry about that.”
And I’m not sorry. None of us should be. Because during all our efforts to do our best and prove our value, He sits on the side lines and waits for us to realize that He never asked us to do this on our own.