ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
It is New Year’s Eve, and as I reflect back on all of the wonderful, wondrous, worrisome, wistful, and whimsical things that have transpired as 2015 prepares to take its last breath, I wish I could find inspiration to write an amazingly awesome inspirational piece that will touch lives forevermore. But the only thing that keeps coming to my mind is this single word : “Enough!”
I have had quite enough of 2015, thankyouverymuch. To say that many things did not go exactly as I had hoped, prayed, dreamed or planned this past year would be a gross understatement. I did not get swept up onto a white horse & ride off into the sunset with Prince Charming. I did not take that Singles Cruise to the Caribbean. I did not downsize to smaller but more upscale living quarters. I did not make enough money to retire. I did not learn to scuba dive. The list is too long to iterate.
But I did get to watch some stunning sunsets where I was enthralled as blue skies turn to azure to the black ink of night from my backyard. I did get to wear a beautiful red evening gown to a charity ball. I got to experince the exhilaration of enduring the tumultuous waves of the Ocoee on a wild rafting trip. I watched a meteor shower. I raised money for charity. I volunteered my time to help others. I learned some things I did not know that I needed to learn. I made enough money to live a comfortable life. I went to music and barbecue festivals with good friends. I took a trip to West Virginia with my daughter, where I explored country roads, and we took a boat trip down the New River, which is the second oldest river in the world. I helped cheer the Crimson Tide to victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Ttown with my son. I laughed myself silly on numerous occasions porch sitting with my girl friend, as we commiserated and celebrated the challenges and perks of being single. I listened to inspirational stories of friends and gained wisdom I did not have before. And I got and gave hugs. Lots and lots of hugs!!
I learned that, just when you want to throw your hands up in despair and frustration and yell “Enough is enough!” that God will send you something unexpected that is indeed, enough. Gifts from the Universe, if you will, that I got just when I needed them, but not a moment sooner. I received job offers that I did not take, but which reminded me of my worth in the marketplace. I received love poems from a couple of potential suitors which reminded me that I can still inspire romance. I received declarations of love from gentlemen which reminded me that I am still lovable. I received the hand of friendship from new friends which reminded me of the value of being kind. I received visits from beautiful feathered birds, sunsets, songs, Bible verses, texts, emails, books, and coincidences that reminded me that God is still with me. I enjoyed the company of my ever faithful companion Snickers, a miniature dachshund so named because he is long, skinny, chocolate and caramel colored, like the candy bar, but also sweet and a little bit nutty. I had visits from my incredible children. Phone calls from long time friends. Invitations to gatherings, prayer meetings, and parties. I was never really alone.
These things were not everything, or sometimes even anything, that I had asked for during my prayers at the end of 2014, but they were enough. They were more than enough. Perhaps this year I finally learned to be content with that which I have, rather than chasing after that which I do not. I am not saying that I will stop aspiring to achieve financial, career, relational and other goals. Nor should you. I am just saying that, when things do not go your way, if you will realize that God is in control, & He is giving you what you need, when you need it, then you will be content with enough.
One night I sat by my little portable, rusty fire pit which I purchased from a local home improvement store, contemplating how my son was celebrating Christmas with his father’s family at a multi-million dollar villa which had a large fire pit in the middle of an elegant swimming pool. I was very grateful that he had this opportunity to spend that time with them in that fabulous place with the beautiful scenery. But when he comes home, there are no maids, and no butler like he had there. I watched the flames dancing in the little fire pit, saw the stars twinkling overhead, and thought about the wonderful, thoughtful and delicious meals that my daughter and son-in-law had lovingly prepared with their own hands in their apartment, and it was more than enough. We did not have a private paid chef, like my son had for Christmas dinner in Cabo (not that there is anything wrong with that), but the sacrifices of time, money, thought and preparation that were made for the dinner we had were priceless. Yes, it was much more than enough!!
My Christmas tree this year almost did not happen. It was a Comedy of Errors. First, a gentleman I was dating at that time was going to go chop one down for me at the local Christmas Tree Farm, but he had a plumbing emergency arise, so my sweet girl friend arranged for her and her boy friend to go with me to get one instead. Except his truck broke down. Then, my cousin volunteered for her and her husband to meet me at Lowe’s to get one, but she had to work instead, so she enlisted her brother and his brother-in-law to meet me instead. Ever one to hate to ask anyone for anything, I cringed, but agreed to meet them there anyway. I chose the very first tree that they pulled out for me to peruse. They looked at me in amazement. “Are you SURE?!?” Each of them asked me, because no female in the history of the world has ever been content with the very first tree offered, right? But I knew that these generous souls were taking time away from their families, so I insisted that tree would be perfect.
When I got it home, I could not find my colored lights, so I dug out ancient strands of tiny white ones instead. I waited until my son got home from college to decorate it, but there were not enough lights, so we had to go back to the store yet again to get another strand. I had two Angels, but one was way too small to top that tree, and the other was too big. Rather than go back to the store again, I went with the one that was too big, and she was incongruously perched atop the tree, but “at least I have a tree”, I thought. Next, I decided to put up some new, inexpensive ornaments rather than the lovely ornaments I had collected over the years from my previous life. They seemed so sterile, as they had no memories attached to them, but my son patiently (for once) helped me hang them. Finally, I got out the brand new broad gold ribbon I had purchased on sale to interweave throughout the tree branches. When my son went out with friends, I turned on the Christmas music, made a large mug of steaming hot spiced herbal tea, and set out to put the finishing touches on my little tree. But there was not enough ribbon. I had bought the last that the store, which was closed at that late hour, had in stock, so I elected to just forgo the bows and ribbon this year.
I got to enjoy that haphazardly decorated little tree for a few nights until one evening the gentleman I was seeing came over for dinner and to watch football. I went to plug in the lights, and, much to my chagrin and dismay, POOF! They burned out. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. My date graciously offered to go to the store and get me some new colored lights, but I knew that he had worked hard all day long, had driven a long way to see me, and it would take quite some time to undecorate and then redecorate that tree. Besides, I was leaving town the next day to visit my daughter, so I declined the offer. But the thought that he would do that when he was tired from a long day was enough. And sitting here on New Year’s Eve before I go out to meet friends to ring in 2016, I know that my tree is enough. Like much of the rest of the events in the past year, it did not turn out at all as I had hoped. Like my vision for 2015, it does not match what I had imagined. But its branches, its ornaments, and its very existence in my house are staunch reminders of all of the love of those who wanted to make sure that I had a Christmas tree this year.
My cousin’s brother-in-law that hauled that tree in the back of his pickup to my house, and who came to help put up that Christmas tree? He was a total stranger to me. My cousin had to get to Church to hear his wife sing, so this man, this stranger, put it into its stand. We chatted while he did that, and then he did something which I will never forget: He made sure that I had somewhere to go for Christmas, so I would not be alone. I assured him that I would be going to visit my daughter for Christmas. He is a happily married man with children, so it was not at all nefarious. It was just a Christian heart showing God’s love. Embarrassingly, tears began to slip down my cheeks, as they did at Lowe’s when we went to get the tree. I am strong. I am independent. I do not want to ask for help. I want to give, not take. This man looked at me, and told me “It is all right to let other people be a blessing to you for a change.” I stood there silently for a moment, and brushed the tears from my cheeks as I thanked him. This is not the first time I have had to accept help in the past few years. It has been one of my life’s lessons, I suppose, to learn to “have the grace to let you be my servant, too” as the old song goes.
That stranger had given me more than just the gift of his time. He had also given me the gift of caring by making sure I would not be alone. But more importantly, at least for me, he had given me permission to need other people, and to freely accept their offers of help with no strings attached. And that was enough. No – it was more than enough.
Just as 2015 was more than enough. I paid my private chefs, my daughter and son-in-law, at Christmas with my love, not with money. My fire pit had no pool surrounding it, but the flames burned just as hot. And my Christmas tree was not as big, not as beautiful, and certainly not as well decorated as my trees of past years, or those of my friends, but it was mine, and it was a collaboration of love. And that my friends, was more than enough.
In 2016, I pray I will have the good sense to recognize that enough is indeed enough. Yes, that saying is true: “God may not give us everything that we want, but He always gives us everything that we need.” May each of you always have “enough” in the New Year!
– Lou Lehman Sams