Thursday, 24 January 2013

Doing enough

Last night I was having another of my guilt-filled panics with God about "the future" and whether or not I should be doing and achieving more.  This is a frequent thought, which derives from a vague sense that I should be doing something, regardless of how I am and it seems to be a deep seated idea as I have struggled with it for a long time now.  I see all my friends and contemporaries getting PhDs or married or having children or careers or travelling, or a mixture of the above, and feel like a failure, an idea further engendered from my family, where to have a BA degree is to be somewhat under-educated.  What am I doing?  What have I done with the last six years of my life?

Then something like this morning happens, a sudden crisis in my mother's health and all these thoughts fall away as the central business of existing suddenly takes over and consumes all my energy and thought.  Thankfully my mother is recovering and I am gradually recovering from the shock, although things are not entirely back to normal.

In the midst of this I read Ruth's post on her excellent blog One Little Drop this morning and then read the blog posts she had linked to and they gave me back some sense of perspective on myself, the first article in particular.  All this time that I have been ill I have felt under a pressure from others to be doing something, or that it was time to move on from being ill and do something, as though it were that simple, when so many days are spent simply managing to get through the day, when being consumes all energy.

And yet, and yet... I still lack the confidence to say that I am doing enough, that just being and getting through the day with grace and the minimum of self pity and bitterness is enough.  Jesus help me, give me your perspective.


  1. Thanks for the link to Ruth.

    I recently read Susan Cain's "Quiet" in which she explained that children who "read" as introspective or quiet experience feelings of guilt from an early age - how they feel like failures if they do not live up to external (and extrovert) notions of success. I had some problems with Cain's book, but that point struck me.

  2. Boy does this reverberate with me! As I think you know, my teenage daughter has had severe ME for nearly a year and a half now. We have had many, many talks about whether she is "doing" anything, what about the future, her education, etc. She often feels that normal life has completely passed her by (understandably, as she can't even leave the house on a daily basis and her friends have pretty much abandoned her). In down moments, she feels that she has nothing to show for the great effort that she puts into daily life and her recovery. "People just think I'm skiving," etc.

    She does accept that my husband and I know (as much as another person can) how hard she works at doing what she does. As you say, getting through the day "with grace and the minimum of self pity and bitterness" can be a huge struggle. I believe that she will get well, and that God does have a plan for her life. But I also think that she is learning very deep lessons about suffering, compassion, patience, and fortitude right now. She makes me, for one, very happy every single day. I'm sure that once she is able to make some friends again she will also bring joy into their lives. And in the long run, I really believe that loving other people is "doing enough". I sometimes think, too, that the "other" she has to learn to love is herself... It's so very hard, though.

    Sorry to go on! ("Here endeth the lesson")

  3. Thanks for the link!

    There can be so much pressure to do 'visible' things, to be someone 'worthwhile in the world's eyes' when actually we are each just as valuable to God. It doesn't matter if a good day means climbing Everest or simply getting out of bed, if that's our best, that's always good enough for Jesus. :-)

    R xx

  4. We live in a society that values us for what we do that has monetary value or that at least can be measured in certificates and such. What should we really value ... honesty, effort, compassion ... I could go on

    As you travel through your days with grace, bringing smiles to the faces of your family and your online friends, you are doing plenty, remember that!

    And I do hope your mother is on the mend x

  5. Thank you so much for the kind words, wisdom and insights, it is all richly appreciated, thank you!