When is Enough Enough?

Daughter competing last Saturday

Competition last Saturday

My 15 year old said a funny thing last week. It was after a Sunday school discussion I led. This otherwise outgoing and social teenager didn’t see anyone to sit with at the teen Godspell production, so she ended up in the back row of my class. It was about repentance—re-thinking our choices and where we’re headed in life—as one way we say, “Yes,” to the paschal mystery’s invitation to newness of life.

On the way home she said, “I often think I want to reinvent myself, but then I think about the time and effort required, and I realize it’s just not going to happen.” She said it with a pithy little laugh, like it was someone else’s quip she was repeating. I asked her what she meant, and she elaborated. “I think I want to compete better so I have to work out more, and I want straight A’s so I have to study more, and I want to be a more giving person so I have to participate more, but I don’t have more time for any of it.”

Well, she has a point. She trains with her team 2 hours every weekday and often more on weekends. She attends an academically competitive prep school and gets good grades — A’s in almost every class, just not all at the same time in the same semester. She does about 2 hours of homework every day, including weekends. Some nights she starts homework at 9:30 p.m. when we get home from the gym. I’m not saying she has no room for improvement. She does, but she is a good time manager, and that includes treasuring the unscheduled time she has and needs.

Her comment could have been in response to my class. The class was about how we all need course corrections on life’s journey. People who are disciplined about frequent self-examination may find only small corrections needed, while those who seldom check if they’re on track may need bigger corrections. If we re-think where we’re headed in life and find we’re on the wrong course entirely, a total turn-around may be what we need. The point is at some point, we all have to stop what we’re doing to take stock. When we make room for God and expose ourselves to transformational grace in the process, we say, “Yes!” to the invitation to experience life in profoundly new ways.

My first thought about her comment was she had taken quick stock and was saying, “No thank you” to the invitation to change. Upon reflection, though, I hear in her comment some wisdom that was NOT in my class. And that is being content with what you have to give at this moment. No one has unlimited resources, including time, so we all have to prioritize. The sky is not the limit. It takes a particular equanimity to give what you have, without self-condemnation for not having more, and to let God do the miracle of making it enough. I think I heard in her comment that who she is now is enough for now. Maybe next time the 15 year old should be teaching the class.

Join the conversation. How do you discern the course-corrections you need without self-flagellation?

Copyright 2014 Stephanie Walker All rights reserved. Visit www.AcrossTraditions.com.


8 thoughts on “When is Enough Enough?

    • Thank you for the kind words, Brenda. Kindness aside, you have made a lot of changes in yourself over the years, and you have redrawn some lines. How do you draw the line for yourself between something you want to change and something that is enough for now?

      • This is a big question and gave me pause for stepping aside and taking a few deep breaths.

        I don’t know that I have redrawn any lines or made any course corrections apart from just staying in the flow. It might be fun to take credit and say I have great willpower and planning skills, or that I follow through on intention, but I don’t think that is really how change happens.

        I have a feeling change starts from the inside and makes it way to the outside. When we attempt to initiate the change from the outside, we many times struggle, falter, and fall short of our goal. But, when it is an inside job, it happens over a course of time.

        Does this make sense to you? Let me know your thoughts, please. Hugs, Brenda ❤

      • Inside job–that make’s sense, Brenda! I certainly identify with the limitations of will power and intention. That said, I also believe fake it till you make it works in some cases where nothing else does. In addition, I think it’s possible to plant the seed of change in our hearts. Mainly, at this moment, I’m thinking of remorse. When I reflect on a pattern of being that really has not served me or others well, and I feel genuinely sad about that, the sadness is like a seed of change in my heart. If tended, it can grow into change; if ignored, nothing happens.

        Laurence Kushner’s “holy spark” idea comes to mind here as well. If we can get in touch with the impetus driving even our worst, meanest deeds, we’ll find something human and holy in it. I’m not capturing it well, but his thrust is urging us not to reject the evil we do but to embrace the shadow self as part of who we really are, and to bring it to light in affirming ways.

        Thank you very much for making time for these thoughts.

  1. Stephanie – Good one.  Shalom.  Connie   Loved the soup and salad, BTW.  Thank you! 

    Let the time not be distant, O God, When all shall turn to You in love, When corruption and evil shall give way to integrity and goodness, When superstition shall no longer enslave the mind, Nor idolatry blind the eye. O may we all, created in Your image, Become one in spirit and one in friendship, Forever united in Your service. Then shall Your realm be established on earth, And the word of Your prophet fulfilled: “Adonai shall reign for ever and ever.”  Shabbat Prayer


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