My grandfather was a reasonably patient guy, but his quiet endurance had its limits and finding out exactly where those limits were was an irresistible mystery my brother and I sought to solve every day. Since video games hadn’t been invented yet, we poured all our creativity into developing new ways to find out how far our antics could go before Grandpa ran out of grace. We didn’t have to wonder when we found that point. He’d boom out, “Alright, boys—enough is enough!” Now defining that statement in precise linguistic terms might get a little convoluted, but we knew exactly what it meant. It meant that we had just stepped across the line where tolerance ended, and if we didn’t stop doing whatever irritating thing my brother (of course) had instigated, the consequences would not be pleasant.
Although it sounds simple, “enough” can be a perplexing term. Defining it often begs some attendant questions, like “of what?”, “when?”, and “according to whom?” We humans apparently aren’t content to have a single, consistent definition. We want our own personal drop-down menu of definitions and the freedom to apply them whenever, however, and in whatever context we choose.
Not When It Comes to Biscuits ~
When Grandpa applied the term to my brother and me, it represented a non-negotiable boundary. It meant stop, and stop immediately. In other realms, though, “enough” didn’t represent a stopping point at all, like when it had to do with Grandma’s biscuits. Her assessment of what was enough for him was at least two biscuits short of his. And if Grandma’s biscuit operation had only produced a supply of biscuits that met her definition of “enough”, then Grandpa would have initiated an immediate kitchen performance review to come up with a corrective action plan.
Dealing with the question of what constitutes “enough” can be confusing and frustrating. For instance:
- What constitutes “enough” on one day may not be close to sufficient on another day.
- An amount that barely constitutes “enough” for one person may totally overwhelm the capacity of someone else.
- “Enough” of something in one category or context may have no bearing on whether it can be applied to something else in that same category or situation.
- In some cases, “enough” may be temporary, a present state of satisfaction with an uncertain prognosis for how long it will last, while others involved in the same event experience neither the same sense of satisfaction nor the outlook for its duration. (Men are known to demonstrate this divergence with their wives from time to time and vice versa.)
- Sometimes a lasting state of “enough” can be achieved in a single experience, as I can personally attest. I went snow skiing once and had enough of it in that single occurrence to last the rest of my life. Others subject themselves to it over and over for years and seem never able to achieve the level of satisfaction that I found while rolling down a mountainside once.
- The declaration that we have “had enough” of something may not necessarily ensure that someone won’t decide to give us more of it anyway, as is often discovered by those who attempt to decline another helping of Aunt Hilda’s pickled squash.
Is Having “Enough” a “Right”?
Clarifying what it means to have had “enough” of something can be a frivolous exercise in semantics, or it can represent a debate with potentially serious consequences, and in a culture awash in excess and extravagance, it is an important, maybe even vital, determination to achieve.
According to some these days, having “enough” should be elevated to the status of a human “right”, even though in most cases, we can’t agree on exactly what the term means or the quantity it represents, much less how to ensure its provision. The corollary idea interwoven with it is that if we fall short of enough, then it is clearly somebody else’s fault—invariably the government’s.
The problem goes back to the very beginning. God provided every element of His creation, and in particular, the Garden of Eden, with an abundance of resources more than sufficient to fulfill every need and desire that He had designed into it. Regardless, when Satan slithered in and suggested the possibility of more, Adam and Eve decided that God’s perfect and abundant provision was not enough. Satisfaction evaporated and sin was born.
Elitists Exposed Again ~
Our endless struggle to achieve “enough” comes to the forefront again as our nation wallows in yet another scandal involving yet another prominent Hollywood elitist. Familiar media faces have been on continuous display expressing faux shock and angst over immoral, unethical, and perhaps illegal behaviors that virtually no one is either honestly shocked or filled with anxiety about—with the possible exception of those who are just as guilty and who have so far escaped public exposure. The episode provides us with another reminder of the vicissitudes of what it means to have “enough”, and the dark places that chasing its definition can lead.
Whether in the context of money, power, acquisitions, sex, or comfort, the quest to define “enough” using the world’s lexicon will always lead to frustration and eventual emptiness. Chasing the dream of “enough” as Hollywood describes it results in a situation like the one Isaiah described:
“It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams, and look–he eats; But he awakes, and his soul is still empty; Or as when a thirsty man dreams, and look–he drinks; But he awakes, and indeed he is faint, and his soul still craves: So the multitude of all the nations shall be, Who fight against Mount Zion.” (Isaiah 29:8 NKJV)
“Enough” Finally Arrives ~
To counteract our insatiable entanglements with our own appetites and resistance to accept God’s provision for our needs, Jesus did two significant things. He promised an endless life that would be filled with “enough” of everything we could ever need or want. But to deliver that, He had to absorb the consequences of our rebellion. He had to pay a price that was “enough” to satisfy the wrath of God for every vile sin we ever committed. As He bowed His bloody head and breathed His last agonizing breath, Jesus declared, “It is finished!” That powerful statement stands as an eternal proclamation that He had suffered “enough” to ensure endless fulfillment for every one of us.
Hollywood types chase an “enough” they can never find and entice others to follow them in their vain journey to self-destruction. What if we applied my Grandpa’s assessment to their behavior and said, “Enough is enough” … and finally decide to simply turn them off?
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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