“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matt 6:26 (NIV)
As I sat on the porch swing, sun setting low behind tree-covered hills, I heard bird song all around me. It was the third evening of our much-needed getaway. My husband and I had fled to a remote Wisconsin cabin on a Mennonite farm in the middle of nowhere. It had been a long year of what felt like the utter failure and unsuccessful parenting of our three adult children: two older sons on the spectrum, and one younger daughter suffering all the loss and turmoil that comes from our unfair distribution of attention, money, and emotional energy.
Sparrows and finches zoomed in and around the freshly-mown meadow nearby, still dotted with grazing sheep, slowly settling in for the night. Cricket song began to pulse and throb, growing louder as, one by one, starlight pierced through a dimming, inky sky. And I thought, God is enough for them. They are not dying of starvation. They are surrounded by farmland and forests teaming with food. It is more than enough for them.
Then, like a triggered assault, my memory flashed to recent arguments, accusations hurled through hot tears. A barrage of evidence accused me of all the ways I have not been enough for my children. Not enough calm for the meltdowns. Not enough comfort for the pain. Not enough answers for the questions. Not enough patience. God may be enough the sparrows and lilies of the field, for His creation. But I am not enough for my children.
You are not enough, Kelli. But you are not supposed to be.
These are the words my heart heard in prayer that night, and I did a double-take. It sounded like a cop-out. Didn’t I need to express my love better? Of course. Didn’t I need to keep looking for solutions? Absolutely. I was ready to push back against an absurd absolution, when my thoughts switched to the prodigal son from Jesus’ parable who came to his father empty handed, fresh from the pigsty of his messed up life.
And I realized, like the prodigal, my error is not being less-than. My error has been in thinking I could be anything else. I am not enough for my children. And every time I try to be, I take on a role that isn’t mine. I am not supposed to be enough for their total happiness, or the solution to all their problems, or sufficient for all their questions. I can’t be, no matter how hard I try.
But God is enough for all I am not.
And even more incredibly, like the prodigal, God tells me that I am enough for Him. Fresh from the pigsty of my own messes, empty handed, He still places the ring of belonging on my finger, lays the robe of reconciliation and affection heavy on my shoulders, and celebrates the simple act of coming to Him. Choosing to trust His goodness is enough.
The truth is, we all come to God empty-handed. We all come to God fresh from our messes, from things we cannot completely fix. That is true for me. That is true for my children. Alone, we are not enough for all the troubles in our world. But God is with us in each moment. God is for us and for our children. And God only asks us to come to Him. And together, life with Him, is enough.
Read more from Kelli Ra Anderson and others in their new book, Life on the Spectrum. Because no two people with autism are the same, Life on the Spectrum’s authors all bring their unique perspective and experiences to the table. Our honest, raw, and heartfelt stories show how God is at work in the real-world struggles of families impacted by autism. Come on the journey with us!