How well I recall the day I learned my family was poor. The news didn’t come from my parents. I often heard them having lively conversations about finances early in the morning while they were eating breakfast. While I was exercising my sloth-like tendency to sleep late. I heard them, but it was never serious enough to fully awaken me.
No, reality hit one day in the third floor library of the junior high building in my hometown. Probably my eighth grade year, during study hall.
Studying didn’t really happen in study hall. That was certainly the case on this memorable day. There was a group of boys sitting at a table near the table where I was seated. The boys had the weekly newspaper open and one of them was reading it aloud to anyone within hearing distance. That would include me.
Unknown to me, the monthly pay for all city and county employees was listed in one section of the newspaper. And on that day, one boy took the opportunity to read out loud my father’s income. Daddy worked for county road maintenance. The boy laughed. Other boys joined his laughter. He said, “Can you believe this is all the money he makes? And what does he do? He grades dirt roads. With a road grader. ”
I said nothing. My cheeks flushed red with embarrassment. The number they read was seriously small. I had no idea. But I said nothing. Honestly, I was kind of numb.
Because….. we had enough. Nothing in my life made me think we were poor. Even the number the boy read aloud through laughter. The number didn’t coincide with the life we lived. We lived a simple, no-frills life. We were (clearly) well fed. We had enough.
In my eyes, Dad had a very important vocation. As important as doctors, lawyers, farmers, teachers. I was so proud of him. He kept roads open for country folks when there was a snow storm or washed out roads from rain. Often, though it was against policy, he’d check on a few of the elderly country folks on his route. Sometimes he’d buy groceries for them if they were snowed in and deliver them in his ROAD GRADER.
And every Christmas we were overwhelmed with generous gifts given to him by the folks who lived along the route he maintained. He was appreciated. He deserved appreciation. For a job well done. An important job well done.
For the record, Mom also worked. Her income was probably less than Dad’s. Add them together….still poverty level. But still enough.
It’s a beautiful thing to grasp just what “enough” really is.
My childhood taught me what basic necessities are. And we had them. Food, shelter, etc. Plus, we had so much more. We had time together doing simple things. Fishing with my dad. Oh my goodness the bliss of just riding with him in his old ’48 Chevy pickup to go fishing at a farm pond or on the river.
You need to understand fishing wasn’t the deal. In my entire life I may have personally caught a sum total of 5 fish using the pole he gave me. Count them on one hand. So really, my fishing skills were far from exceptional.
Daddy introduced me to his sanctuary. The Great Outdoors. Creation at its best.
And that was the real appeal: The Sanctuary! Where the reality of God is so evident! Being with my Dad was the icing on the cake. We both found serenity and joy in just being outdoors. In a farm pasture throwing a baited hook into a pond. And then just waiting. More waiting than anything. More quiet waiting. That’s so funny because if you knew my father, if you know me….. we were two of the most impatient people on the planet. But waiting quietly in the Sanctuary was good medicine for our souls.
Good medicine. Enough. The presence of God is enough.
So, back to that monumental day in the library on the third floor of the old junior high building. The boy who read the paper aloud, the other boys who joined in laughter, the little girl (me) who heard it all? We all grew up to be fine adults.
Every one of us in the library that day, more than just the table of boys and me, have experienced life changing tragedy. Many of us lost a parent before graduating high school. Some have lost siblings tragically. Some have broken hearts from the loss of a child.
Brokenness comes to every one of us at some point. Divorce, abandonment, death, disability. The list of painful experiences is endless.
Brokenness will teach you that money is never enough. Even possession of every desirable material object you ever dreamed of. The highest degree of education, all the brilliant careers. Not enough. Never enough.
Brokenness has the power to teach you that there is a better kind of enough.
For me, I learned that Jesus is enough. He wrapped me in his love and showed me a way to hope again. Knowing that Jesus is with me and will never leave me is enough. Enough to carry me through any life-storms that come my way. He is everything I need for every day of my life. And when life ends? The best is yet to come. Heaven and reunion time.
The most beautiful enough. Jesus. I pray you find the beauty of enough.
When you come to a place where the loss is devastating and Jesus is all you have, you will find He is all you need.