What You Have Will Be Enough

Beverly Howard shared the following remarks upon receiving the 2013 Community Leader Award from Mecklenburg Ministries at their annual breakfast.  So many were inspired by her words that we wanted to share them with you.

I lived in 8 states and attended 12 schools in 12 years growing up.  I had no sense of what community was.  And my earliest role model was my mother who gave up her only paying job when she married my father in 1936.  Because married women weren’t allowed to teach.  Teaching jobs were for men with families to support, or single women who had no husband to support them.  This was not that long ago but how things have changed.

I found myself in 1975 newly arrived in Charlotte.  I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do or be.  My great ambition for life was by the time I was 30 to be married, have two children, live in a house in the suburbs and have two cars.  And I did.  But then I turned 31 and thought what am I supposed to do now?  Well, for me I found a home in this community.  I felt welcomed and needed.  So I started to look around for some role models.  And I found them in three women, Virginia Sampson who founded Loaves & Fishes, Ann Elliot who founded Friendship Trays, and Caroline Myers founder of Crisis Assistance Ministry.  These women always seemed to have their ducks in a row.  They anticipated problems and were ready with solutions.  Beside them I feel like a very short dog in high cotton.

Well Community Leader looks a lot different in 2013, at least from the inside.  I never have my ducks in a row.  In fact ask anyone who has been to my house.  If you open a cabinet in my kitchen something will fall out and hit you on the head.  And I’m constantly surprised by problems.  You would think after 25 years I would be used to surprises but I wander along assuming nothing will ever go wrong and am surprised every time!   

But what I want to especially tell the younger women here this morning is this:  After telling the Loaves & Fishes story for 25 years, I have finally learned its wisdom applies to all of life.  Start with what you have – whether it’s 5 loaves and 2 fish, or like me, a mixed bag of skills and strengths.  Somehow it will be enough.  Young women, what you have will be enough.  You don’t have to be able to speak like Rodney Sadler or Russ Dean, or be as talented as Amy Jacks Dean.  What you have will be enough.

I will quote from the Gospel of Leonard Cohen:  “Ring the bell that still will ring, Forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s what lets the light in.”

 We are all products of countless influences.  Some known and some a complete mystery.  I am fortunate to have some of the people who have made me who I am here in this room today – a fine son and very much loved granddaughter, friends of many years, and a pastor whose faith and wonderful sense of humor have inspired and encouraged me.

And just as I have been given enough – I believe our community also has enough.  Enough people with good hearts, enough resources, and enough energy to face today’s challenges.  Virginia Sampson and Caroline Myers and Ann Elliot stepped out in faith believing that there would be enough to provide for folks in dire need and indeed the miracle is those organizations are still meeting a tremendous need.

I spent a lot of time as a young person agonizing over what I was going to do with my life.  I could have saved a lot of effort if I had known then I would have very little to do with deciding the course my life would take.  Or as theologian, Frederick Buechner, puts it:

 “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  The place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. The great gift of my life has been that community and Loaves & Fishes have provided that place for me.