n life, many of us have struggled to live up to other people's expectations.
How often in life do you worry that you are never going to be enough? I have often found myself thinking, when am I going to be enough? When am I going to meet the expectations as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a brother, as a friend, as a Soldier, as a priest, and as a disciple of Jesus?
We are never going to be as perfect as our Father in Heaven wants us to be. We fall short so often, in so many ways, but there is consolation in the biblical verse in Romans 3:23 that states, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
So why are we worried about what others want us to be? I have fallen short, especially in my journey as a husband and father. As our children grow and the challenges they encounter grow with them, I wonder how I can ever be the father they need to support them through life. I know someday they will come head to head with bullies and encounter hatred and pain, racism and discrimination, and questions and problems, many of which I am ill-equipped to grapple with myself.
I don't need to wonder if I am not enough with my spouse as every couple already knows. Many times you, as a husband or wife, are never going to be enough, but even for my own children, I know sometimes I am not enough. I know it, and one day they will too - if they have not figured it out already.
But maybe that is all right. After all, I am not in this alone. I am an ongoing instrument in God's hands. Isaiah the prophet said, "But now, O Lord, you are our Father, we are the clay, and you our potter; And all of us are the work of your hand." (64:8.)
"Whoever has God lacks nothing," St. Teresa of Avila said. "God alone suffices."
Many times it seems all I can be is what I am today to my wife, children, and people around me - what people see is what they get.
I am the muscle man to my children as they call me to lift them up when they are unhappy. I am the reassuring voice when they feel inadequate, a listening ear to hear their complaints and concerns, a crying shoulder for their tears, and a safe place for them to come and know they are loved - not just by me, but also by our Lord whom I serve in spirit and in truth. Yes, "We are to become vessels of God's compassionate love for others," as St. Clare of Assisi said.
You may have made yourself available for that purpose, but those around you take advantage of you. You have driven yourself crazy just to be enough for your Family and friends, yet they make you feel you are not enough.
You set those milestones in your personal and professional relationships on your mental checklist, but the pieces just are not falling into place. Meanwhile, at every corner, the people around you seem to hit this point - that you are not enough - so easily home to you by their actions. It is easy at this point to feel discouraged and despondent.
But I want you to remember that on our own we will never be enough for anyone we encounter. We can never live up to people's expectations but we can try to be a vessel, a container, carrying love to everyone we meet.
I also want you to remember that life itself is not a race. It is not a camp. It is not a destination. It is a trail. And many of the dreams you have, many of the efforts you have put forward along the way in order to make those around you feel loved ultimately could become a reality but you must
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs states. "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (3:5-6.)
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
You may despair now because people think you are not enough, but for God, the porter who is still molding you, the concept of time is so different. So do not worry: He can see the whole continuum, and he doesn't hear a ticking clock the way you do when you are waiting for the next chapter in your life to begin.
Remind yourself, when you feel you are not enough or living out others' expectations, that life is certainly a journey, but not a race. It is a trail and not a camp. You are on different path, and others are on theirs. You do not have to be enough for anyone.
Each person will reach the finish line in their own time. Let us hope we can find the strength, the patience, and the courage to wait and prepare for whatever that next stage in our life will require.
As St. Therese of Lisieux said, "May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be." And doing exactly what you are meant to do NOW.
Ike Eweama is the Rector/President of Gregorian Orthodox School of Theology.