How much is enough? What is really expected of us? What are we required to give? What does God need from each of us? Am I enough?
We are commanded to be perfect like Christ (I still like the complete reading of that phrase, though it is also not without complications). I wrote some about “Perfect Imperfections” earlier this year and I think these thoughts will build on and with some of those ideas.
I think a few lines from Hamilton are appropriate here (honestly, I can probably find an appropriate line from Hamilton for almost any occasion). They come from the song “That Would Be Enough” (which you can listen to here and Alicia Keys’ cover for The Hamilton Mixtape here). The song is Eliza speaking to Hamilton, but if you think of it as God speaking to us, there seem to be some interesting resonances.
“If I could grant you peace of mind
If you could let me inside your heart…
Oh, let me be a part of the narrative
In the story they will write someday
Let this moment be the first chapter:
Where you decide to stay
And I could be enough
And we could be enough
That would be enough”
The first two lines have a pretty clear corollary here. If we let God into our hearts and minds then we can have a sense of peace. I think it is interesting to view God as the one pleading for us to let Him/Her/Them “be a part of the narrative” as that gives God an agential role that seems often missing from how we understand His/Her/Their place in the grand scheme of things. God might be pleading for us to come to Him/Her/Them just as much as we are hoping that He/She/They will reach out to us.
I like that. It complicates things a bit, but I think it highlights the relational aspect of our experience with the divine. (After all, “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” as we find in John 17:3.) We have to come to know God (and it seems implicit in that that God will come to know us). I don’t really know what it means to know God. We talk about prayer as a means of getting to know God and Christ (which seems odd, since we’re praying to God, so I’m not quite sure how that helps us get to know Jesus, unless he’s so similar to God that we get to know them together all at once, which I definitely don’t think is the case).
Prayer is rough for me. I struggled with prayer for a long time because I felt like I was just saying things into a void. Somewhat surprisingly I think my prayers improved drastically when I started to pray in Lithuanian, but since I’ve been home from my mission, prayer has become challenging again. At least traditional prayer (which I feel is an impoverished understanding of prayer if we are meant to pray always). I ponder on Mormon-y things with great frequency. Those thoughts are at least indirectly directed heavenward for the most part. And I write—these blog posts once a week, other bits and pieces as they come to me, and in my journal every night—writing has become a form of prayer for me. I often feel more insight and connection to the divine writing through my thoughts and feelings than I do saying them in my head.
So, I write. I write to understand myself. I write for others. I write because it’s what I know how to do. I write to reach God. I write and pray that it’s enough.
Enough. Sufficient. That’ll do.
Back to Hamilton, the last three lines are a powerful testimony of love and relationships within the context of the musical and I think, a welcoming, loving theological statement.
“And I could be enough
And we could be enough
That would be enough”
God can be enough. We, together with God, can be enough. That relationship, that bond, that connection, that togetherness can be enough. We can join with God’s infinite love, infinite goodness, infinite mercy and that infinity will swallow up all our imperfections and incompleteness.
That speaks to me. I don’t know what I need to give up for that to happen. I don’t know if I need to fundamentally alter my life. I don’t know what “enough” really means. I don’t know how to best reach God to get to know Him/Her/Them. There’s lots I don’t know.
Yet, I think that if we strip away the lists of things we need to do, forget about the check boxes, drop the nagging, and focus on getting to know God (maybe by getting to know those around us? We are all created in God’s image and if we do anything unto the least of us, we do it unto God), that could be enough.
Perhaps some of this “could” is that we need to accept it as enough. We must let ourselves be satisfied (to reference one of my favorite songs from the musical). We need to accept that we are enough. That we don’t need to be perfect. We don’t need to do everything. We could be enough.
I’m struck by how this message is conveyed in It’s A Wonderful Life (which I watched again this weekend). George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart’s character) opens the film contemplating suicide and then the film explores how he touched the lives of those around him. George was a good guy, but nothing extraordinary. He tried to care for those around him and perform small acts of kindness and that was enough. His impact was far greater than he ever imagined. I like to think that that’s true for all of us. I have felt the goodness of small acts of others in my life and often those people have no idea that what they said or did mattered to anyone. I hope that I’ve been able to do such small deeds of goodness in the lives of others. I’m not amazing or incredible—I tend to be judgmental, skeptical, aloof—but I hope I’ve worked some small good and that that’s enough.
You, dear reader, are enough.
We are enough.
That is enough.