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Thinking about GOOD ENOUGH

Today’s Guest Post is by Lauren Elkins, who is surrounded by computer programmers by day and two handsome men (her son and husband) by nights and weekends. She writes on her personal blog, The Sciolist, so that her Mother-in-law in Texas can keep up with their lives in Salt Lake City. 

Good EnoughGood enough.

When you hear that phrase, what do you think of?

“He’s not good enough for her”?

“I’m not good enough at my job”?

“My dirty house isn’t good enough”?

My friend, Megan, shared a link to an article on Facebook the other day: Blessed in weakness: a good enough mother.

This phrase, this good enough, is something I have used often. It all started when I was in a singles ward and the Bishop rounded us up for a Relief Society lesson on dating. Those are the best, right? The nice Bishop, who’s been married since he was 21 and has 9 kids, all happily married, corrals all of the awkward single women in his ward in their regular meeting place to tell them how important marriage is and how amazing his wife is.

Turns out, this Bishop was different.

This Bishop did an excellent job. It stuck. At least with me, it did. The heart of his message was to be looking for good enough. I guess he’d sat down with enough young women who couldn’t find Mr. Right, or were turning down dates with Mr. Not-Right-Enough. Their lists were too long, too demanding, and too unrealistic.

My Bishop told us to focus on three things for dating, and in this order: does your date treat women and children well, does he work hard, and does he honor his priesthood? That, he said, was GOOD ENOUGH.

It’s a message that we can and should apply to more than just dating. It’s helped me at work, with my sense of personal worth, with setting realistic expectations, and now I am using it as I learn how to be a mother.

The phrase, “good enough” is often associated with negativity. We could add even more to the list we started with: “Her gift wasn’t good enough;” “His effort wasn’t good enough;” “Your assignment isn’t good enough.”

But now I try to search a little further and find the positive GOOD ENOUGHS.

I try to remember at work that things are good enough; I don’t need to stress. I try to remember with laundry, that we are doing good enough. That with helping my toddler to be a happy boy, I am doing good enough. That with all of the different focuses (work, my son, my husband, home, soccer, friends, family), it’s good enough. The ding in the bumper of the car when somebody didn’t leave a note doesn’t matter because everything else with the car is good enough. The crying that my son does when he doesn’t want his diaper changed is okay because he’s happy more often than not, and that is good enough. The silly things that I get frustrated about with my spouse are simply that, silly, because he’s handsome, a great cook, so gentle with our son, driven in school and work, and a good little church goer–all VERY good enough. I have zits, but my body can do so much, and that is good enough. I am afraid of having another child, but I will get the courage again one day, and that is good enough. I am terrible at getting out of bed in the mornings, but eventually I do, and that is good enough.

Nothing here is profound. But that is good enough.

In the creation, “God saw that it was good.”

And in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come”.

Good. Enough.

Do you feel like you are good enough? Are you looking for good enough? Is that the right thing to focus on?

13 thoughts on “Thinking about GOOD ENOUGH”

  1. So many people have made me think that I need to keep raising the bar…so I can someday be more perfectish. But that's totally contrary to the "do not run faster than you have strength" mandate. I like the good enough idea, because it allows for humanity to be part of our human experience. For the messy and imperfect outcomes. For the way it reduces anxiety and stress. It's like that newish expression "it's all good" alludes to, …it's all good enough.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Lauren! ♥

  2. One of the first things I was taught as a medical student on the wards was "Perfect is the enemy of good". In that context, it was to make us learn that if we waited until we could do something perfectly before trying, people could die. With 80-hour work weeks and small people, it rapidly expanded to laundry, dishes, and mopping the kitchen floor ("But you're not using a rag and a bucket! The laundry is not folded/ironed/put away!").

  3. Boy am I familiar with the first scene… said Bishop married since he was 21…gives marriage advice to us singles.

    The idea of "good enough" is an interesting one and I like the different shade of light you cast on the idea.

    Good (more than good enough) job.

  4. Good enough was my mantra last year and it really helped me — in all aspects of my life, especially as a mother, to focus on the positive good enough. I love your thoughts – especially the Savior's "enough" in the garden of gethsemane (Mark 14:41). That has started me pondering….

  5. Now I need to learn good ways to CONSTANTLY remind myself to focus on good enough and not perfection. It's easy to slip into not good enough.

    I'm going to write Good. Enough. on the bathroom window.

  6. Reading your comment also led me to think of how I think about others. Do I remember to hold people to the same standard and love their good enoughs?

  7. Wonderful thoughts. But how do we find the line between good enough contentment and complacency, being content with less than what we can become. The good is the enemy of the best and all that. I find it hard to determine when I have given my best and let it go.

  8. What a good question. So my Bishop gave me the dating criteria for good enough. I think I often just go with "does this FEEL good enough?" for other areas of my life, but perhaps I should change that.

    At work, we write up criteria called "definition of done". As a project team, we all agree on the criteria that has to pass in order for work to be labeled as done.

    I wonder if there would be value in sitting down and writing up the "good enough criteria" for personal areas.


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