catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 21 :: 2009.10.30 — 2009.11.12



Peace Like a River by Leif Enger was a New York Times bestseller: a story about motherless children and a father who lives in the power of prayer. That morning, I had thrown the book in my bag, getting ready for my day. Hours later I would be driving to the hospital. My mother was in the ER, alone. She was struggling to breathe, struggling to live. The hours passed and I waited for her to be moved to a room in the intensive care unit. To add some normalcy to the situation, I held my book; perhaps I could envelop myself in a story-a world where alarms and beeps didn’t have so much significance. I don’t remember if I actually read the book or not. What I do remember is the desperation of watching a computer screen. So much depended on those few inches of electronic glass. Pixels showing numbers; numbers that ticked off monumental things: breaths and heartbeats-numbers that seemed to keep going lower and lower. The nurses came in and out, fussing over tubes and buttons. And I watched the numbers, holding onto my Peace. Long, dark hours later, the dawn came; the nurse declared she was past the worst part. I walked with her gurney to the ICU, where she was finally ushered into a dreamless sleep. That’s when I realized: He has to be enough.

That’s my manifesto. Sometimes I believe it with every cell in my body. Those days I wake up in the morning and take a shower, looking forward to the day because I believe it. I believe that Jesus Christ is enough for every thing I need and every moment I will live in that twenty-four hour span. Enough to give me wisdom for every lesson I teach. He will give the wisdom for every word I write, making them enough. For every difficult situation I may have with my housemates, He is enough to give patience and squelch irritation. Those are days when the sun shines, and it is easy to live. It is easy to pick up my flag and wave it above my head triumphantly, shouting my manifesto: He is enough!

But I live in Scotland, not southern California, and the sun doesn’t always shine. Biting wind and dark rain clouds will come; you can count on it. Sometimes my mind says, “No, He isn’t enough.” Sometimes I think there are corners that He can’t fill and places He can’t heal. He isn’t enough to give patience for that person in the office who talks incessantly about himself, constantly filling the vocal space like a self-focused metronome. On those days, I believe He isn’t enough to deal with that friend who has no compassion, and refuses to do any thing other than navel-gaze. When I lie in bed alone, after being the sounding board of a gushing newly wedded wife reporting how glorious her life is, I sometimes believe He can’t make up for the empty bed and the cold sheets. Mentally, I list off these moments to Him, and accuse: “You aren’t enough.”

But then there are other partly sunny days too, when I don’t give up so easily. In an emergency room staring at the screen praying for higher numbers, the only thing I knew was that if she died, He had to be enough.

This month, I had a disc slip in my spine. A gelatinous section of goo between two bones-something so small, and it moved probably just centimeters, but it was mind-blowing pain. And yet in those moments when I literally wanted to die, my manifesto was there. When the only words my mind could formulate were, “Jesus help me,” that was enough. Holding onto that truth through the following painful weeks when I couldn’t even put my own socks on or bathe myself has been the only choice I had.

Because that’s what a manifesto is really. It is something you sign on to. Something you shout from the top of a statue while waving your flag; it’s the belief you want everyone else to believe as well. And yet whether they do or not, whether your heart feels it or not, you choose to believe it anyway. These are the things that a person gets exiled for, put in a prison camp for, stoned for, ostracized for, beheaded for.  Perhaps it doesn’t always feel like my manifesto is real. Perhaps it doesn’t always make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, or always make me feel better, or make sense to other people, but that is my manifesto, because I know that He really is enough. He is enough for job acceptance and unemployment, enough for the person who is a constant irritant and the one who knows my secrets, enough for the euphoria of first love and the pain of heartbreak, enough for dark ER rooms and sunlit seaside picnics, enough for life and death. He is enough for me, and that is all I need.

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