Am I ever enough? Choices without fear

New school and work schedules surge forward.  Goals. Deadlines. Kids. Get involved.  Socials. Volunteerism. We go from the sunburn of summer to the burnout of busyness that fall brings.  A question nags, “Am I ever enough?”

Arguably, women are more apt to wonder.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that  in 2014, 83% of women do the housework, in addition to childcare and career.

Love and service to family and community fill the spirit.  Guess what else gets filled?  The calendar. As I once heard, it’s easy to slip into becoming a “human doing” instead of a “human being.”

Sometimes I wail, “Why am I doing all this?!”

On the positive side:  “I love helping others.”  “I want to make a difference.”  “I want to give back.”  “I want to do this!”

On the less-than-ideal side:  “I don’t know how to say no.”  “I got roped into it.” “What will people think if I don’t?”

If service to others is fueled by guilt, does it matter as long as someone benefits?

I think it does. There is a lightness in my spirit when I do something out of choice.  In comparison, it’s drudge with grudge if I feel compelled by guilt.

I grew up thinking that I didn’t have a choice.  In my family, the question was never, “Do you want to?”  but rather, “Can you?” If a feeble “yes” followed, then go do it.

It’s all so Mother Teresa, unless of course, like me, you are not Mother Teresa.  The guilt is there. It’s so annoying to be on vacation with my critical inner voice whispering, “Instead, you could be doing _____ for somebody else, you hedonist.”

This is how I finally was able to become a cheerful giver and banish the guilty whiner (most of the time).

I read 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Fear should not be my motivation to serve. Fear of criticism.  Fear of not being enough.  Fear of rejection.  These are the punishments I think await if I don’t say yes to everything. The myth of the Superwoman is not perfect love.

Setting boundaries seems harder for women who are compelled by the open mouths of chicks at work, home and in the world.  Yet sometimes using the word, “no,” can be holy when it creates balance in life.

Now I ask myself, “Where is my heart in this?” and I’m honest with the answer.

I will never “be enough” when it comes to the expectations of others, but I am enough to God.  He’s given me time, health, and chances to use my talents, not to “earn” his love but to manifest divine love to others. God doesn’t dictate when, where or to whom.  He trusts me to make it happen, and prefers that perfect love wrap any gift of time or treasure.

This column ran through GateHouse Media, 9/14/2016, and through The Patriot Ledger. 

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Suzette Standring

SUZETTE MARTINEZ STANDRING is a nationally syndicated columnist with GateHouse Media. Her two award winning books, The Art of Opinion Writing: Insider Secrets from Top Op-Ed Columnists (2014) and The Art of Column Writing (2008) are used in journalism courses such as Johns Hopkins University. Suzette is a past president of The National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the host of It’s All Write With Suzette, a cable TV show about writing. Visit www.readsuzette.com or email suzmar@comcast.net
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