The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.
Everyone knows at least one person who never seems to be satisfied, who is always wanting more of something. I think in today’s world, we are being conditioned to want more and more and the idea of having enough is becoming elusive. I was talking to someone the other day about this and he told me about the Swedish word “Lagom,” which translated to “not too little, not too much,” or “just the right amount” and is used as a buzzword for what it means to live a balanced life.
There are a couple of issues with our insatiable desire to have more. First, we lack happiness, because part of being happy is learning to be content. So, if we get 1,000 “likes” on a social media post, instead of being content, we’ll wonder why we didn’t get 2,000. Second, we’ll measure ourselves against other people. Especially if we see someone else who have 2,000 likes or 10,000 likes, we’ll start to not like them. Third, this idea of “it is enough” or rather “it is not enough” spills over into our relationships. We have forgotten how to celebrate wins. For instance, if my son comes home with a good grade on a project he has done, this is an opportunity to celebrate a win. He deserves the opportunity to celebrate a win. If I say to him “that’s nice, but what about the next project?” it’s like I’m saying to him “it is not enough” and he’s hearing “you’re not enough.” And what happens when we hear “you’re not enough,” we either start hating other people because they won’t let us celebrate a win, or we start hating ourselves because we feel like we are not worthy of being celebrated.
There is sometimes a fine line between celebrating a win and challenging someone to do better. We don’t only want to celebrate wins and never extend challenges. And at the same time, we don’t only want to challenge people without being able to celebrate their wins. And this is where “lagom” comes in, the ideal of not too little, not too much, but just the right amount.
We’ve reflected recently on the subject of intimacy, both with God and with other people. This is not sexual intimacy but emotional intimacy, being able to be vulnerable, being able to be open and honest. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately. We can’t have intimacy if there isn’t contentment. Because an intimate relationship (again, non-sexual) accepting someone else, just as they are, flaws and all. People in intimate relationships challenge each other, to be sure. We all need to be challenged. But they also have many periods of contentment. After all, one cannot feel intimate, or honest or vulnerable in the moments that they are being challenged or being made to feel that they are not enough. Because we are in this ultra-competitive, ultra-judgmental world where “lagom” is a nice word on a piece of paper and not much else, this is one of the reasons why we are struggling to have intimate and deep relationships. Perhaps if we had more of a sense of “it is enough” we’d be able to be more intimate with those around us.
I grew up with someone whose parents were never satisfied. No matter what he did, it was never enough. He went out the door never hearing the words “I love you” or even “have a great day”. Rather what he heard was more like “don’t fail today.” He never felt like he was enough or could ever be enough to satisfy them. And he grew up feeling insecure and not confident. Because their sense of nothing is enough, instead of being something that challenged him, made him feel that forever he is not enough. I share this as a word of warning to the parents “who are never satisfied,” to put a little bit of “lagom” into your parenting, lest you risk raising kids who will either hate you or, more likely, hate themselves. Again, this doesn’t mean that you can’t challenge, or even chastise. However, it does mean that there have to be days or times when your child knows “it is enough” and “you are enough” and “I accept you as you are,” and “I love you for who you are.”
Today’s verse from Proverbs 13:25 even goes so far as to say that being able to satisfy one’s appetite, in other words, to be content, is a righteous virtue. But that the one who continually suffers want and is never satisfied might even be considered wicked.
When we ask the question “how are you?” to someone, it is rarely answer with an “I’m good.” It’s either answered with “I’m super busy” or “I’m super tired,” two traits we carry around almost as trophies, to show that we are somehow superior. Imagine if a person answered this question with “I’m content, I don’t have too little or too much, I have just enough.” I wonder what kind of reaction this would get. I’m guessing it would be negative, as we’ve just about all been conditioned to always want more, and rarely get to the point where it is enough. I’d venture to say that we’d be a lot more happy, intimate and vulnerable in our relationships, especially the ones that really matter, if we could get a better sense of “it is enough.”
Lord, thank You for all that I have. (list some things that you have, list some of your blessings) Lord, help me to be content with what I have, to get to a point with other people and with myself where I can truthfully say “it is enough, I have enough.” Help me not to have the tendency to be jealous of others. Help me to walk the fine line between being contend and seeking challenges, and the fine line with others between being content and challenging them. Help me to find people that I feel safe around, where I can be honest and vulnerable. Help me to feel honest and vulnerable with You. Please see me as “enough” and help me to always see you as “enough” or actually “more than enough.” I love You Lord. Thank You for loving me as I am, imperfections and all. Amen.
It seems that we can each stand to have a little more “lagom” in our lives.