How 3 words can stop what's stealing your joy: Instead of staying stuck in comparing and competing

So, yeah, this kid?

She’s apparently got a problem when it’s her kid sister’s birthday.

And honestly… it’s sorta understandable.

I mean – who really especially likes it, or finds it easy – when the other kid gets the big cake?

Or the big gifts. Or all the flashing cameras on her grinning mug smiling pretty over candles?

I saw it once at a parade: women jockeying for a better position.

Turns out it doesn’t matter a hill of beans how old you are, how wise you are, or how you’re sitting pretty – the more you let yourself compete and compare, the more you forget your own calling.

I’d seen it, the women with their big handbags and big hopes: The more you push to get in front of others, the more you fall behind in being the best you can be.

I confess, I don’t remember much of the parade… but I went home with that.

I went and listened to the kid with the kid sister who had this birthday coming up. She was brave and honest and said out loud that she knew she was going to feel her tummy tighten into knots when everyone handed her sister all the presents, when her sister got the stage and the candles and the cake.

So she showed me what her and her mom had written on a piece of paper for her, for her to carry in her pocket, hold in her hand.

Just three words, scrawled on a scrap of paper:

I get enough.

I get enough.

The kid’s eyes dance:

“So I remember: I get enough cake, I get enough pretty gifts, I get enough people celebrating me too.”

That little girl holds that paper up: “I am not ever losing this. Because I can’t forget it – or that’ll ruin everything: I get enough.”

That’s right, girl – because a girl can forget. And that ruins everything.

A woman can forget that her life is enough. That her road is enough. That her calling, her story, her singleness, her chastity, her marriage, her husband, her vocation, her apartment, her house, her childlessness, her kids, her body, her health, her work is enough.

A woman can look in the mirror and find it impossible to say: I get enough.

One can forget how to believe: I get enough.

There’s enough scraps of paper in the world, that we could all tear up that myth of scarcity and write it down for ourselves, the certainty of abundance: I get enough.

One can write it on the mirror:

I get enough… because I get enough Jesus – and Jesus for me is enough.

I get enough… because I get enough God – and God in me is enough.

I get enough… because I get enough grace – and His grace to me is enough.

I get enough… because I get enough Love – and His Love all around me, for me, in me, is enough.

I get enough.

When I can’t remember that I get enough – I just have to remember to give thanks.

Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle:

Give thanks – and you get the miracle of knowing that you do get enough. You get enough God.

The disease of not-enough… is cured when you give thanks for more than enough grace.

Sometimes you need shorthand to help you remember what matters in the long run.

Shorthand for ‘I get enough’ is: 1000 gifts.

It’s been given, 1000 gifts, endless gifts, more than enough gifts:

“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son  –  is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?” (Romans 8:32, NIV, MSG)

If God already gave us the extraordinary extravagance of Jesus – He will give the ordinary enough of right now.

It’s always our relentless desire for more – that destroys more and more of us.

The more you want –- the more you will be destroyed.

But when we know we get enough – we get happy for what others get.

That, always that in the pocket: I get enough… because I get enough Jesus – and for me, Jesus is enough.

Some part of the art of life is the art of believing – that the grace in the pocket is sufficient for today, that the celebration and the feast is wide enough to encircle all of you too, that the candles light you too.

When the kid sister laughed over those birthday candles, you could see a pinpoint of light in everyone’s eyes, like the light of more than enough stars that you could see even right now, right now in broad daylight.

If we’d just pause to look up.

The column was originally published on Ann Voskamp’s blog,