Monday, November 29, 2021
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The Too-Muchiness And Not-Enoughiness Of Life

The too-mushiness

My favorite question recently is to ask people to rate the last year on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “worst year ever” and 10 being “I would live it over and over again.”

I like this question because I always learn something about people’s lives. Most often, I’ve learned about specific struggles that I hadn’t known about. I’m reminded that life can be hard, and you don’t always know what people are going through.

And it seems that many of the difficulties my friends have described fall into two categories:

Too Much

These are my friends who are overwhelmed. They are building their families, taking care of aging parents, moving to new homes, or dealing with unexpected health problems. They are living what Madeline l’Engle called “The Tired Thirties.” (Thanks to blogger Sarah Bessey for alerting me to this apt phrase).

Their sleep is interrupted by small children; their older kids are having trouble in school; their marriages may struggle; their responsibilities at work are growing; their expenses rise faster than their paychecks.

These friends are tired. The days are too short, and even though this life can be beautiful, it all seems like too much.

The other set of struggles fall into this category:

Not Enough

These are my friends who talk about losses and lack. Sometime during the last year, they lost someone to death, divorce, a breakup, or a move. Or maybe they lost a job. Their homes and their evenings are too quiet.

This is infertility, unwanted singleness, or illness. This is an empty nest. This is trouble at church or the end of a long friendship. This was a year that shorted them, somehow.

These friends are longing. The days are too long, and even though this life can be beautiful, it just doesn’t seem like enough.

The crazy thing about life is that it can feel like both Too Much and Not Enough at the same time. Think about the tired working mom who barely has time to take a shower, but who feels lonely in her marriage. Think about the single woman who is overwhelmed with taking care of her first house, but who also grieves the lack of someone to share it with.

I think many single people struggle with the Not-Enoughiness of life, while many of our married friends are feeling the Too-Muchiness. But regardless of which camp you fall into, Jesus has something to say to us all.

To the one who is overwhelmed, working “to the point of exhaustion” (as the notes in my Bible say for this verse), Jesus says:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 1:28-29)

He promises rest, and no ordinary rest, either: soul rest. Jesus invites us to cast our cares on Him, because he cares for us (1 Peter 1:17).

And to the one who is longing, Jesus says,

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b).

Jesus promises not just enough, but abundance. And to the generous soul, He says,

A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap (Luke 6:38).

Once I was talking with a friend about God’s provision, and I made an offhand comment, “He knows what I need.” And my friend corrected me, saying that God loves us so much that He doesn’t just provide for our needs, but gives us “exceedingly, abundantly, far above all we could ever ask or think,” for His glory (Ephesians 3:20). I need to stop thinking of God as a Father who gives me just enough to get by, and remember that He loves to bless His children with good things.

Practically, how does Jesus give rest to the overwhelmed and abundance to the lacking?

First, I think we really do have to put our hope in God Himself. For the one overwhelmed with life’s demands, God offers His love without demands. The fact that you exist is enough to warrant His love, attention, and provision. For the one who is longing for whole relationships, God offers His presence. Psalm 73:28 simply says, “The nearness of God is my good.”

Second, we can “bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). In my own seasons of “Not Enoughiness,” I’ve had large chunks of time and money that are beyond what I need for myself. I know I need to be better about using these gifts to serve others who can’t seem to get a minute to themselves. As we bear one another’s burdens, we even out some of the disparities in our various seasons of life, and we also fulfill the law of Christ!

I’d love to hear from you. What season are you in, and how has God met you in it?

About Alison Lentz

Alison is a thirty-something single woman living in the best state in the Union. (Iowa. But you guessed that already.) She spent three years working as an English teacher in China before returning to the States to work as a speech therapist for people recovering from brain injuries. Alison’s favorite writers are Charlotte Bronte, L.M. Montgomery, C.S. Lewis, and, yes, Dave Barry. You can find more of her writing at alisonrosewrites.blogspot.com.
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