Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

The Never Enoughs

Today is my baby girl’s first day of her senior year of school.

Let me clarify. She is my only girl. She is also the baby of my three children. I’ve walked through senior year with my two boys (although my younger son’s senior year was cut short because of Covid).

Today is my very last first day of school with my children.

My oldest is technically a senior in college, although he opted to attend aviation school this year to become a pilot and will eventually go back and finish his final credits of college. My younger son gave up all kinds of scholarships and a place on just about any livestock judging team in the nation to become a firefighter.

Today is literally the very last first day of school for my children.

And I probably don’t have to tell you that the emotions are rather overwhelming. I don’t know how my kids can be grown. Eighteen plus years have flown by, and my babies simply aren’t babies any more. They are wonderful and amazing young adults with such bright futures. I am incredibly proud for each of them as they find their purpose and blaze a trail. I pray they are all world-changers!

I also know the emotions I feel are normal. I think we all experience a multitude of conflicting thoughts and feelings as we watch our children leave the nest. Pride. Fear. Sadness. Confusion. Excitement.

And questions. So many questions race through my mind.

Did I do enough?

Did I love enough?

Did I teach enough?

Did I give enough?

Did I protect enough?

Did I model God’s love enough?

Did I prepare enough?

Was I enough?

Honestly, I don’t know any other life than that of single mom. Yes, I have an amazing man by my side these days who does so much for all of us…and I am incredibly thankful for him. But I did the bulk of the child-rearing on my own. My daughter was 4 when her dad left and she was 13 when Roy came into our lives. My boys were 15 and 18. That means that most of the molding of their hearts and minds and character happened while I was a single parent.

I’m sure married couples who had the privilege of raising their children together struggle with some of these same questions, but I wonder if the burden is the same. You see, it was all on me. It seemed there was never enough.

Never enough time.

Never enough money.

Never enough energy.

I didn’t know how to teach my boys to be warriors in the kingdom. Sure, I could teach them how to be kind and nurturing, but how do I teach masculinity when I don’t know that role? How do I teach my daughter how a man should treat her when I’ve never experienced being loved as Christ loved the church myself? There were so many areas where I simply was not enough.

I’ve always asked God to be the enough for me when I was not enough. I know He was the guiding light in our home, giving me direction and showing me what to do.

But I definitely feel the lack of enough as the tears stream down my face today waiting for my baby girl to bust through those doors and tell me about her last first day.

As I look back over their lives, the enough I regret the most is time.

I always wanted to be the mom who was homeroom teacher and overly involved in everything, but I was too busy working to get involved.

I always wanted to be the mom who sponsored every church camp and mission trip, but I never had enough time off when the opportunities rolled around.

I always wanted to be the mom who planned fun outings with her kids and their friends, but there was never enough money.

I always wanted to be the mom who created an environment of laughter, but there was never enough energy.

And now I look back at the never enoughs, and my heart is shattered into a million tiny pieces as I realize I will never get those days back, I will never get to be the mom my heart longed to be.

Don’t get me wrong. I can say with great confidence that I did everything I knew to do. I had no choice but to work hard to support my kids financially, and I pray they know I made the sacrifices for them. I pray they know my heart longs for the carefree days of summer when I could spend time with them. I pray they understand this was never the way I wanted our lives to look. I pray they understand I made the most of the circumstances and chose our paths the best way I knew how.

But it somehow simply does not seem to be enough at this stage in my life.

So today, I must find a way to focus on grace and truth. You see, He tells me that His grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I am weak. I have been weak. It has been His grace, His power in my weakness, that has carried me through the long years of single-parenting. It is His grace in my children that give them eyes to see my heart instead of my never enough. It is His grace that will erase all my heartache and pain…some day.

And His truth. His truth tells me that He works all things—even my not enough—for our good when we love Him (Romans 8:28). He’s the One who takes all the heartache and pain and devastation and loss and creates purpose for our lives. He’s the One who redeems all things to bring beauty from the ashes of this life.

Grace and truth. It’s a powerful combination when we face the never enoughs in this life.



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