Ich habe genug
11/03/2013• 6 min read
Last February, a new friend of mine asked me if I was satisfied with my life.
At the time, I really felt quite content, maybe even more content than I had ever been. I knew myself very well—strengths and weaknesses, what made me happy, the possibilities for my Future, the reality of my Now—and I accepted myself for who I was, flaws and all. My basic needs were met and exceeded. I was healthy. I was in good community. God had provided for everything I needed, and I knew it. So I had contentment.
But that's not what she was asking. See, English is a wonderful language, but it has its limitations. What she asked me was if "I have had enough [in life]." Our English-raised brains turn immediately to contentment. A lot of people are discontent with their lives, but I didn't feel that way. In German, however, the phrase "I have had enough" is ich habe genug. While the direct translation may be the same, the German phrase has an entirely different connotation than its English rendition. The genug contained something that our "enough" lacked: fullness. (Cue music.)
I wasn't full. I was well fed, certainly—my mom made sure of it. My schedule was packed—mostly with leisure and socializing, but I wasn't idle often. I was comfortable, safe, and content. However, I wasn't full. My "enough" wasn't enough. I didn't have genug.
What was I missing?
I took a moment to reflect. Literally, a moment. One might call it an epiphany. Here's what I wrote:
What's missing for me is consistently feeling challenged and pushed to fulfill my potential while making a significant contribution to people's lives. I get some of that now and then, but I'm not doing all I'm capable of doing right now.
In short, what was missing from my life was impact. In my safe life, I wasn't forced to take risks. In my comfortable life, I didn't need to work hard in order to survive. In my content life, I was complacent. My impact on people, relative to the gifts, talents, and resources I had, was miniscule. I was living an unapologetically selfish life. And this new discovery convicted me to the bone.
A verbal apology to those whose lives I was not contributing to would have been as awkward as the wording of this sentence is to be. Besides, my grandma once told me that actions put the smack down on words. Or maybe that was Mr. T. Either way, it seemed like sage advice to me, so I put together an Action Plan. And then I put my plan into, um, action. And as I was acting out my Action Plan, I saw that everything was working out, as it always does, exactly how I thought it would. Perfect.
Sorry, I forgot to turn off the Sarcasm Lock on my keyboard. Of course nothing went according to my plan.
Luckily Fortunately Providentially, everything went according to God's plan, and his plan is so much better than mine was.12
My plan was to move out of my parents' house, out of my comfort zone, to an apartment on my own. God's plan was to provide me with a roommate who would stretch me in different ways, saving me from a different comfort zone: being alone. My plan would likely have left me broke and discouraged.
My plan was to completely support myself financially by launching my own web design and development business. God's plan was for me to work a couple part-time jobs, providing some financial stability while I developed the necessary organizational skills to run my own business. My plan would most likely have been a huge struggle, possibly ending with ruined business relationships or complete failure.
My plan was to relish in the bachelor life, short work days rounded off with plenty of TV and video games. God's plan was to put me on a collision course with a woman whose perspective on life is so radically different and whose love for me is so strong that it challenges me daily to be the best version of myself I can possibly be right now.
So here's the Big Idea: my plan would likely have kept my impact on people minimal, but God's plan has given me opportunities to build into people in ways I never thought I could. Everyday, I have to think about how I can better serve my roommate. My part-time job as a technology coordinator gives me a frequent dose of people massively appreciative of my technical skills. And my downtime is now marked by a radically different lifestyle and reckless love.
I didn't feel full before because I failed to recognize what "enough" really means. However, the challenges given to me in God's plan have been paired with abundant grace, empowering me to grow and change rapidly, each day conforming myself more and more into the image He desires me to be. Now, I crave the challenge. I love the product of growing pains. I push through each struggle because I want to be the best version of myself, not for my own glory but because it's what God wants for me.
The better me can better impact people, and that's what I aspire to do. That's how I can show people I have genug: I keep pressing on because God's grace is genug; my Savior is genug.
Now, finally, how this all relates to writing. Beyond all the other benefits of writing, the reasons why everyone should spend time writing, beyond even the happiness it brings me, I'm choosing to use the month of November to cultivate the habit of writing daily because of the impact it can have on people.
An inspiring story captivates us and spurs us to action. A griping tale entrenches us in emotion, reaching the depths of our hearts we had forgotten existed. A provocative article challenges our perspectives on life, love, work, play, learning, politics, health, and more. And sometimes a bad pun can shine some sunlight on our faces, even on our darkest days. Unless you live in Deadhorse, Alaska and it's December.3
It's my hope that dedicating a significant amount of time to writing this month will impact more people than when I was silent. And it's my hope that writing will help me impact more deeply those already inside my sphere of influence. I hope my writings this month bring you inspiration, provocation, and maybe even a laugh or two. Most of all, I hope you think about what it means to have enough in life. I hope you find the fullness of genug.