Here’s something that I’m learning lately that I really wish I had known much earlier in life: You do what you can, and that’s enough.

I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of person. I either wanted to do something 100 percent or not do it at all. And when your young and single that kind of seems like a feasible way to approach life. But as you grow older and you gain people who depend on you, not just a spouse or children but jobs and friends too, you begin to realize that it really is not possible to give 100% all the time in every situation. So then you can get stuck thinking that you are failing when you fall below the 100% mark. You can start feeling inadequate. You start saying no to opportunities when you want to say yes, but you don’t because you know that you just don’t have it in you to do all you would want to do. At least, that’s how I used to do life.

And then I turned 40. Listen, I don’t want to set anyone’s hopes to high here, but 40 is a magical number. It can be a really freeing birthday. A turning point where you get to lay down so many false expectations. I know for some it’s really scary and it isn’t magical – but it should be. Really, it should. It’s a beautiful age.

My twenties were painful – lots of hard lessons – very meaningful to who I am today, but nothing I would want to repeat. My thirties were pretty good. I finally found my voice and my life started heading in a good direction. But, my forties – well, they are just fantastic. And it seems like I get to unlearn something on a weekly basis. I get to shed a bit more of that youthful arrogance that careens us into adulthood. I get to release who I’m ‘supposed’ to be and just be who I am.

I get to do what I can and know that it’s enough.

No doubt, I would still love to have enough money to solve every financial problem my friends and my family face. I would love to have enough smarts to have the answer to every problem. I would love to have enough time to serve every person in need. I’d love to fix all the things that are broken.

Instead – I give when I can. We support a little girl in India and another in Haiti. We help support our church family. When we have extra we give some of it away. When I see a problem where I can help, I offer what I can, even if it doesn’t fix it. I share my piece. I spend my time in service when I can and I recognize that sometimes service is at home, sometimes it is at work, sometimes it is with local outreaches, and sometimes it is with friends over coffee. I add my tape, and glue, and love, to the broken pieces around me and I trust that others will do the same. I do what I can to make things better, and I find things do what they can to make me better back.

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

I believe that to be true – I find in my faith that there is a never-ending supply of grace, mercy, peace, and rest. I love having that constant touchstone.

But I’m not Jesus.

When I give someone bread – they will always hunger again. When I offer water, it only satisfies for a moment. When I love, it will never be enough to be done. I will never be done. It is in that mystery where I find comfort and faith. I believe in a God who is always enough and I can turn to that well whenever I need to because it is never dry – but I am not expected to be that for anyone else. I’m never told, or led to believe, that I can satisfy someone’s needs completely. I’m asked to love, again, and again, and again. Because I can never do enough to be done.

I can never do enough. I will never be done.

So depressing at twenty and thirty. So incredibly liberating at 40.

I do what I can and THAT is enough – of me. Peace comes from the effort, not the fulfillment. Tragedy is not found in falling short – tragedy is found in never trying. An offering can be used – even when it is not enough.

So let’s just let go of trying to do it all and just do our piece of enough.

Because a whole lot of us doing not enough, will end up being enough sometimes.

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