Is It Enough?

The final scene in the movie Schindler’s List is one I will never forget. The war has come to an end, the factory workers are finally free, and Oskar Schindler is preparing to leave. Instead of feeling happy, he is troubled with guilt. In spite of all he has achieved he realizes that maybe he could have done even more. (It’s such a moving scene. To view, click here.)

Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don’t know. If I’d just… I could have got more.
Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.
Schindler: If I’d made more money… I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I’d just…
Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.
Schindler: I didn’t do enough!
Stern: You did so much.

Even though only two lives are involved – that of my darling girls – sometimes I feel like Schindler.

For Rhema, I sometimes worry that even with all of the hard work we’ve done: the treatments, therapies and interventions, the meetings, the fundraisers, the prayers – that somehow we’re still not doing enough. I recently read an article in the New York Times in which an autism mother says, “If not for speech therapy five or more days a week for six years he would not have the limited language skills he now has, which enable him to speak in short sentences, make his needs known…” And my initial thought was Oh no. Maybe Rhema’s not getting enough speech therapy. Maybe that’s why she’s not talking! (Later on when I thought about it, I remembered that she actually gets speech therapy six days a week. So chill, girl).

A mom of a teenaged boy at Rhema’s school told me she feels free from the guilt imposed by Bettelheim’s ridiculous “refrigerator mother” theory, but there’s still this incredible pressure on mothers to save our children. (She cited a certain US magazine cover from October 2008.) She said that if the child does not make huge gains, there’s this notion that the mother didn’t do enough.

If you’re like me, time and money (as in ‘We’ve run out of time in the day’ and ‘We’ve run out of money’) eventually stop you from doing every therapy out there, but you still wonder if XYZ therapy or JKLMONOP therapy might help your child. At the end of every successful IEP meeting I walk out full of anticipation, yet always hoping, wondering in the back of mind if it’s enough.

For me, it all has to come down to trust. Do I really trust God with my child? Can I do my best and trust him to do the rest, to “fulfill His purpose for her” (Ps. 138:8). Can I trade in the blame, guilt and self-doubt for the promises: “But my God shall supply all my needs.” (Phil 4.19), “lt is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:8), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6)

I know for certain that the interventions in which we have invested for Rhema are beneficial and important. We will continue. But I’m learning not to be driven by guilt or fear to just do more. My friend Carrie is such a good example for me. She gives her daughter her best, she gets her daughter what she needs, and she does it all without getting wrapped around the axle. She relies on God in gracious simplicity, knowing it’s not in her power but in His strength.

Is not God enough for thy need, or is His all-sufficiency too narrow for thy wants? Is His heart faint? Is His arm weary? If so, seek another God; but if He be infinite, omnipotent, faithful, true, and all-wise, why gaddest thou abroad so much to seek another confidence? Why dost thou rake the earth to find another foundation, when this is strong enough to bear all the weight which thou canst ever build thereon? Wait thou only upon God, and let thine expectation be from Him. —Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Will all we do for our kids ever be enough? Maybe not.

But guess what? God motions me to lean in for a whisper.

It’s O.K…

Because she’s mine.

I will take care of her.”

15 thoughts on “Is It Enough?

  1. there’s such an incredible, peaceful calmness in this. it is stunning in it’s simplicity.

    thank you so much.

    from the bototm of my heart, thank you.

  2. Not getting wrapped around the axle. I love it.

    It’s so hard not to feel that pressure, or to impose it from within. I wish that trusting came more easily for me!

  3. This is publish worthy girl. ALL moms feel this way to one extent or another. I don’t tell you that it is publish worthy for your own satisfaction (well maybe a little!) or pride; but that this is a message that people need to hear. I would encourage you to consider submitting it – possibly to MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) Connections magazine or even to the Internet Cafe over at the Women of Faith On Line…it is often articles like this that weren’t written “to get published,” but from the heart that make the most difference.

    As always, thank you for sharing your heart openly and for pointing us to the Lord.

  4. A wonderful post. I’ve managed to let go of most of the “doing enough” guilt. We do what we do. Kayla does what she does to the best of her ability. God made her who she is and I’m comfortable in that.

  5. I wonder all the time if I am doing enough. Part of the reason I have decided to try everything there is to try is because at least if it doesn’t work, then I can sleep at night knowing I did everything.

    I do worry that people look at how low-functioning Pumpkin Pie is and think that it is my fault. I know for a fact in Hawaii that I did not do enough for her. I know it. Now she is nearly six and what if I missed that “window of opportunity”?

    I am so happy that some people completely recover their children and send out a message of hope and to never give up, but I worry about people looking at my low-functioning child and thinking I am not trying hard enough, however I really am doing all that I know to do through research.

    My husband’s brother is also really rude to us about our daughter. He’s flat out told me we never should have continued to have children after her, that because she is six and still not talking that there is not much we can do for her now, etc., etc., I rarely ever visit my MIL because while she is fine I cannot stand to listen to his crap. I wonder every day if I am doing enough for her, I don’t need him adding to how I feel.

  6. I’ve tortured myself with this kind of thinking as well, not only thinking I haven’t done enough, but also that I haven’t done the right things. Should we have done ABA instead of Floortime? Tried a different school? A different brand of vitamins? And of course, wishing we had not adhered to the vaccine schedule and had started biomedical treatment earlier. Not to mention feeling guilty for even having a minute to myself. Why do we do this to ourselves? Thank you for sharing this. I really need to let go of my fears and just trust that He can and will take care of our children.

  7. I hate this pressure. I was consumed with it. Especially when my son was younger. We never went outside of “traditional” strategies though. I had heard pressure from Dr’s, of this “7” year old magic number. How you have to get things in before that. After Daniel turned 7 and he matured and made more gains than ever before (and continues to) I have relaxed and had faith in the choices we have made and those we continue to make. I feel if you listen to yourself (or maybe God) that you can and do know the right thing to do.

  8. Jeneil, I’m so happy to finally be catching up with your posts! This was beautifully expressed, and the Scriptures that you included were ones that came to my heart as I read it … as well as one more:

    “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ “ (2 Corinthians 12:9)

    Praise God that we don’t have to figure it all out! We need only to rest in Him and follow His lead. Thanks for reminding us all.

  9. I agree with the poster above. I think you should think about a book for Christian mothers to more widely spread this incredible, calming, and supportive post and the others.

    Thanks for continuing to write this blog.

  10. Yes ma’am. This is the essence of the struggle. Am I doing enough? Is God doing enough? Am I missing something? The chase. You capture it beautifully once again and remind us that our God can be trusted. His yoke is easy and burden light. I want to learn the rhythms of grace. By the way, I have to say I also agree that you should write a book. You’re so gifted and connect at profound level. Thinking of you so much!

  11. Charles Surpgeon is the man! So true. When you realize that your children belong to God first before they belong to you, the amount of unspeakable peace that comes over you is amazing. Even with all that we do, say, pray, we still miss it somehow, but God fills everything in and more. Even with other children you know who are in unhealthy families and situations, you have to trust that they belong to God first before they belong to them. Praise God for His sovereignty and for being the best Heavenly Daddy ever!!!!

  12. Yup. the enemy’s got a trap set for us here: to never be content while we chase after professionals and snake oil salesmen alike. good to be aware of it and get off the treadmill

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