I hope this doesn’t sound morbid. If it does, my apologies upfront. But for years, I’ve told my kids to put, “She did what she could…” on my tombstone. I’ve always said it with a bit of a chuckle, but I’m dead serious. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist…pun intended!)
So tonight, as I was searching for a specific book that I wanted to get for a young mom, I was stopped in my tracks because, guess what? There’s a book called She Did What She Could! Well, what do ya know! It’s a book by an author I have enjoyed in the past as well, so am thinking it’s one that I want to read. Then again, I think I probably already get it already…the whole “did what she could” thing, that is.
I’m not sure what the book will say for sure. But I do know exactly why I’ve said that to my own children. I know there’s freedom in that… the doing-what-we-can thing, and leaving the rest alone. It’s about the doing-what-we-can in our own power, our ability, our time, and then being okay with the results. Not bemoaning what we couldn’t do. Not always second guessing ourselves. Of course, being faithful with what we can do, but not beating ourselves up for what we’re not (yet) equipped to do.
I know that there were so many gaps that always needed to be filled in our family. and Talking seriously (and joking with) my adult kids about the “she-did-what-she-could” thing was my way of saying I’m so aware that there were gaps.. Some gaps I could fill. But there were gaps that were left…gaps that I often couldn’t fill. I wanted my own children, or ‘adultren’ (thanks for the new term to my dear friend Deb!) to know that I know there were gaps. I wanted more for them and would never have chosen some of the things that were ‘gaps’ in our home. There were times when I so grieved over some of the gaps. But the cool thing is that in my family we can acknowledge the gaps now, and maybe even see how some of those things that I never would’ve chosen could be the very things which made my kids appreciate each other on a deeper level. Maybe some of those gaps that I beat myself up about at times were the very things that made my children stronger, more determined. Maybe the gaps helped me see that I didn’t have to fit into this box of the perfect this or perfect that but was loved and accepted and okay as just me. Even when just me was just a mess.
I had lots of somewhat legitimate excuses for gaps as a young mom. I mean, our oldest was 8 when our 6th child was born. (Yes 6. Oh, and 5 boys, 1 girl…) No twins. That’s excuse number one. Lots of babies, one mom and dad (and no family living nearby….) Then comes excuse/reason number two. My husband had two different jobs…first as an undercover narc. Kind of stressful to say the least. Yep. Pretty much. After doing the undercover thing, his new job was being a builder. And I was the bookkeeper /rental manager, etc. who was fired and rehired and quit and rehired a number of times, by the way, ha! (Funny now, not then!) Excuse number three…one that is the toughest one. Alcoholism. A lot of my husband’s energy went into battling this monster…and the battle wreaked havoc with so much and left a wake of issues which created what felt like vicious cycles. (So thankful to say that that is and has been gone for years. Couldn’t be more grateful…) So, in the midst of normal life, there were some added in variables that I realized weighed in on my ability (or lack of ability) to fill in the gaps. God used this time so greatly in my life to help me learn a thing or two about dependence and need and that no matter how hard I tried, some things were just out of my reach.
I can remember feeling this overwhelming sense that I was never enough. And I wasn’t. But here’s the cool thing. None of us are.That is, if we’re expecting enough to be ‘all’. None of us are meant to be the end-alls in a person’s life. We’re just not. And when I f i n a l l y realized that, there was absolute freedom. Joy even. It gave me eyes of faith to see that God could fill in the gaps that I couldn’t. I grew to see that gaps don’t necessarily make us weaker. Sometimes, they require us to be stronger. Sometimes strength comes as we acknowledge weaknesses. That’s a beautiful truth. Oh, and dependence isn’t always a bad thing…it just all depends on who or what you’re depending on….
So, I don’t know if there’s anyone out there that needs to hear this, but if there is…I just want to say, you’re enough. You’ll never be an “all”. None of us were ever meant to be that to anyone, and if we are, well, that can create a whole other set of problems. Just be faithful to be enough you. To determine to meet the needs that you can, and let it go. Faith has a way of forcing out fear. As a mom and wife, I’ve had to battle a lot of fears…and usually what ends up happening when I’m in the fearful mode is that I can start feeling that old thing of not being enough or wanting to control things that aren’t mine to control. Not good. Trust yourself. Trust God. And let go.
One of the favorite cards I’ve made is this one: (here’s the screen shot…excuse the gray highlight, this doesn’t show up in the printing)… anyway, here it is:
Then on the inside it says, “Trust God. Trust yourself. Then confidently and joyfully be on your way…”
Sometimes that’s easier than other times. Sometimes it’s not easy at all. It’s another one of those disciplines that seems to get easier the more we determine to do it, practice it. The beauty of the “she-did-what-she-could” mantra is that endless energy isn’t spent on wasting what-we-can-do by worrying about what-we-can’t. There will always be plenty that can’t be done. But when we focus on faithfully and diligently doing what we can? Well, it has a way of freeing us up to do an even better job, with joy even.
Here’s been an even greater, sweeter benefit for me. I’ve learned to lean on the One who can. I believe God can change things in a heartbeat. I also believe He sees a thing or two more than I do and might have a better idea of what “best” is than what I do. I’m so entitled to my opinion, and I definitely have plenty of them, but, am thinking defaulting to the “His Ways are Higher than mine” mentality needs to be in place. There’s such beautiful freedom in that. God has shown Himself faithful in more ways than I could ever say in my life and the lives of my loved ones. He fills in gaps that I never could. It’s like a beautiful sunset…I mean. I couldn’t do that. But I can make sure I’m there to see it. That’s what I can do…Show up and smile with gratitude at the beauty of what’s been done. He does the rest. I’ve seen things like that in my family…as I show up, do my thing, then step back, I can smile with gratitude at the way that things turn out. So many times they’re more beautiful than what I could’ve imagined.
So hopefully you don’t have huge gaps in your life. Hopefully there’s stability and security and grace all wrapped up in the comfort of your home. But if there isn’t, well, I just wanted to share these thoughts. And if you’re ever in a mindset of saying, I just can’t, well, maybe you can’t. But maybe, just maybe, an awareness of the ‘cant’s’ can be a sweet reminder to lift our hearts and hands and ask the One who can to do what He can. He has a way of filling in gaps that is greater and more beautiful than anything I can do. And I’m thinking that He just calls any of us to “do-what-she-could.” That’s enough. Because He is more than enough. His grace is more than sufficient, and sometimes, the greater the gaps, the more that has a way of showing through.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9