Having six children in seven-and-a-half years made one thing very clear to me — I cannot do life in my own power and strength. Trying to care for so many little people day in and day out was completely overwhelming. Feeding them, diapering them, keeping them safe, bathing them, getting them to sleep – in those early years, I always felt like it was just too much.
I was not enough.
No place was my not-enough-ness more evident than when I took them all to the grocery store. More specifically – when we tried to get from the big, black Suburban in the parking lot to the inside of the store. When you have more little children than you do hands to hold onto them and you are traversing a parking lot, you feel your inadequacy. I had an Atari when I was a kid, and I played enough Frogger to know that one wrong move was all it took. I was absolutely terrified that one of my little children would dart away from my reach and a careless driver would flatten him, like Frogger on that four-lane highway.
So I carefully planned my strategy — park beside the cart-return with a cart in it, unload the smallest children from the Suburban into the cart, have older children hold onto the sides of the cart and make my way through the parking lot with most of the children safely contained. Sometimes, though, a thorough cart-retrieving man in an orange vest had already cleaned out all the cart-returns. Or we were trying to cross a church or playground parking lot. No shopping carts at those places. And so I prayed my way across the parking lot. I’d wear the baby in a sling and hold tightly onto little hands and slightly bigger hands would hang onto my shirt tail with firm instructions not to let go. Then I would pray – usually silently, though a time or two I may have felt especially desperate and uttered an audible plea for help.
Each time we made it safely across a big, scary parking lot, my heart would overflow with thanksgiving. Whew, we’d done it. And I hadn’t lost anyone! Hallelujah!
I knew that all the variables in the parking lot situation were beyond my control, so I learned to ask God for help and then trust Him. I know I could have learned this life lesson a hundred different ways, but I’m really grateful God taught me these lessons in really tangible ways by giving me more little children than I had hands for at the time.
Now, my kiddos are all big enough to walk across a parking lot without being held in a death grip by their momma. I am not literally praying my way across parking lots any more. But I am often still aware of my not-enough-ness. I don’t have enough money, enough time, enough energy, enough wisdom, enough creativity, enough patience, enough humor. I am not enough. So I think back to those days of praying tiny little inch-step by inch-step across a large parking lot, then I pray my way across whatever seems too much for me in that moment.
This is what it looks like to abide in Jesus. This is what it looks like to live in His power. Stretched beyond my ability to control, I ask for help and trust in the only One Who is always in control. Recognizing my inadequacy, I look to the One Who is always enough.
I am not enough. But Jesus is more than enough. And He invites me to attach myself to Him and live in His enough-ness, one step across the parking lot at a time.