I love the movie “The Greatest Showman.”
Whether it’s perfectly historically accurate or not (OK, it’s not…), it still, in Hollywood-esque embellished style, makes for an amazing movie (in my humble opinion.)
But for me, it’s not all the little dramas and the great musical score that get to me… it’s one particular scene and story and subplot involving “Jenny Lind and her first performance in America” that touches my heart the most. Of course, the song performed by her actress is not the song nor performance which made her famous. Her real historical performance of Messiah is how she caused such a stir leading to what was called “Lind Mania” before she came to the United States. She was well-loved and admired for her talent.
But back to the song from the movie about Barnum… she sings a score called “Never Enough,” and it gets me every time. The real Jenny Lind didn’t believe this about herself, but the character in The Greatest Showman did, and in a way, I like when directors and producers and script-writers create situations slightly different from historical fact, but relevant to the audience watching.
How many of us believe, deep down, that we are “Never Enough?”
I’ll raise my hand.
I was that little girl who tried to do well in school when I couldn’t see the chalkboard because of severe myopia; I was the little girl who tried to fit in with my extroverted personality when I was always the “poorer one” amongst the more comfortable ones in private schools; I was the one who kind of tried to get straight A’s, but even when I tried, I could never match up to my valedictorian brother and sister who have a natural brilliance; I was the one who was never athletic enough to be MVP, I was never “tall enough,” or “developed enough”…. and fast forward to my adult life. I’m the mom who always had a strong opinion, but I was never old enough or experienced enough or melancholic enough or something enough to be taken seriously. I’m not conservative enough, I’m not liberal enough, and I’m not third party enough to really have a decent handle on politics. I’m not prayerful enough. My house isn’t clean enough, my finances are definitely not enough, and I’m not focused enough.
And now to the part that hurts…. somehow, even though it hasn’t been directly communicated, I don’t feel “enough” as a wife. The requests and the anguish over financial troubles added to piles of nights where the sun went down on “questions” and “mysteries” and “non-resolution” coupled with the knowledge that getting pregnant again could cause my death make for a feeling of utter emptiness.
I fold clothes and I clean and I try and I love on my children and I pray and I….. but still, something is just off, and I’m here trying to live the way I believe is best. Meanwhile, everyone on anti-depressants or natural yippy-skippy tells me of how it’s all good and “if I check this box” or “take this protein shake” and “pray this novena for 3042 days” then I will “be enough” and we’ll all be happily ever after like all those Facebook Posts with hashtag #blessed.
And so do you. I see you, trying to “be enough.” Trying to pray enough rosaries and do enough charities and trying to smile enough and pass on as many tacky memes as you can, just so that you can avoid what’s deep down. I see you on your parish counsels and at the park with your precious little ones having your staged videos that only tell 0.01% of the real story. I see you hugging your spouse like everything is just peachy because you both have matching tattoos and or you both have matching Christmas sweaters. I see you trying to make one more sale, burning the candle at both ends to make those ends meet, taking meds or oils or whatever the heck you do to keep yourself from really looking in the mirror. I see you writing article after article because you have something important to say, but it costs you time and money, and five likes don’t really make a living, nor can you really ever get that time back. I’ve seen you climbing mountain after mountain trying to be more and more fit and strong…
I’ve also seen the people with all the rosaries end up in mental hospitals. I’ve also seen the “having it all together” parents get ugly divorces. I’ve seen the parish leaders lose their faith altogether. And I’ve seen the kissing couples hiding bruises when I visited them in person, both physical ones and emotional ones. I’ve seen the mountain climbers get more and more single and lonely. I’ve seen the big families like mine who have pain and anguish in their eyes, suffering untold, histories unshared, children with issues they never expected…. I see you. I see you trying to be enough. Because I do the same thing. I put a smile on it too, because I have to smile and laugh or I’ll crumble under the weight of sack cloth and ashes.
But we can never “be enough.”
Not without God.
To each other? We are not enough. We fail. And I’m talking F minus. Deep down we all have flaws and weaknesses and imperfections, and these days, especially with social media, what you see is most often NOT what you get. In fact, most of it is people spewing opinions (myself included) from a place of brokenness, even if we are in a good mood that day.
But with God?
We are enough.
I am enough.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
This is where the news gets good. If I am looking to humans and what they expect from me, I will never be enough, as “Jenny Lind” sang in “The Greatest Showman.” But if I’m looking to God, I can smile. I am enough. He knows my desires and my pain and my joy and my weaknesses and my past and my future… AND HE LOVES ME.
My mistake has been in trying “be enough” for my fellow person… I don’t need to be. What matters, truly, and ultimately, is being enough for Him. And I am.
And so are you, for Him.
You are enough.