- Mallory Manning
I can think of two immediate ways that I tend to deal with stress: shopping and eating.
I also make a ton of coffee runs, plan out DIY projects that stall due to my commitment issues with paint, and bake incessantly.
Ok, so that’s more than two ways.
Lately I’ve noticed that my stress has not been a result of adding things – like evening commitments and work responsibilities– but rather feeling a deep sense of lack.
A few weeks ago, my husband started a job that will require us to spend a portion of the weeks apart.
He left at 4:30am on a Sunday. I made him oatmeal, coherently adding almonds for energy. He left, and I began to plan my day, then my week. Checking off the days like big, red X’s on a calendar, ensuring I had some activity to distract me at every turn.
I felt lack. I wanted to fill it.
I wanted to fill it because I was officially outside the realm of a “normal” day and wondered how it would affect my marriage. And I think, deep down, I desperately wanted to control something in the midst of uncertainty. So feeling lack was a cue that I needed to get moving.
When I dare to look more closely, I now see that the habit of frantic filling is how I often deal with discontentment. And the morning he left, one question crept up on me like those little nudges you try to ignore but can’t, prodding and sacred. “Is God enough?”
Truly, could I be satisfied with just God? At my happiest and my loneliest, is God Himself enough for me?
I say it’s true. I sing it in church and believe it with my head, but that day forced me to confront what it meant on a heart level. When life shifts – with varying levels of severity and punch – how will I cope?
It’s easy to take my feelings of lack to the mall for a new shirt and a sample from Fannie May (only me?). It’s much harder to open my bible and wait with anticipation that God can do work in me, filling all the holes, expecting peace to illuminate those darkest places.
I believe my recurring feelings of lack – in this season of life or any – do, in fact, hold great potential for growth. I like to think that God often pushes me to the edge, pulls at what I perceive to be my limits and molds me into a person who more easily accepts that his movement in us is, actually, a good thing.
I want to fill the holes on my own. I want to banish all fear, anxiety, resentment and isolation. But I can’t do it with food and new stuff, or by keeping a tight grip on things that won’t ultimately help.
Filling the holes is exhausting, never-ending, a mere attempt at replenishing a bucket with a crack in the side of it. I know that relying on God is seriously my best option for peace as the end result.
That doesn’t mean I’ll never get the urge to eat some ice cream and go to bed, half-heartedly praying for a better tomorrow. But all through scripture, God says He is enough to satisfy.
I want to abide in that truth, and not let all the fillers be my default coping mechanism.
I want to just see what happens when God intervenes in my thought processes again and again, as he’s faithfully done before.
And I want to believe that He is, indeed, enough.
Mallory Manning is a big-time dreamer and reader who turns good ideas into action for the sake of change and a better story. Mallory lives in Indiana with her husband and encourages others to live and love with purpose at makeofme.com.