My computer crashed last week, a first-world problem if there ever was one. There was a time in my not-so-distant past when this would have left me completely unhinged. I’d be anxious, grumpy, and generous with passive-aggressive comments on the phone with tech support.
This time was different, though, and it opened my eyes to an important shift that has come to my life over the last year based on a simple change of perspective.
Trapped in a scarcity mindset
I used to live with a worldview of scarcity — a fear of not having or being enough. It shaped every choice I made, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t fall back to that way of living in moments of uncertainty.
The worst part is that on the surface, this worldview worked. The fear that I wasn’t educated enough to find a successful career sent me to grad school. The belief that I wasn’t thin enough got me the approval and attention I craved when I dropped 40 pounds in high school. The fear of not having enough money propelled me into part-time jobs and inspired me to ask for opportunities that brought people into my life whom I treasure. The fear of dying alone got me to pay for a three-month membership to an online dating site. My fears kept me hustling, fueled by anxiety and the certainty that if I slowed down for even a second, I’d fall behind.
Fear keeps us hustling. Hustling keeps us busy. Busyness keeps us distracted from facing our own busted up selves and broken beliefs about how things should work around here.
This worldview of scarcity blocked my connection to God. It fostered the feeling that there’s not enough of whatever it is I need to survive and thrive. But that’s a lie, because God is eternal and infinite, and so is His love for me. The worldview of scarcity also kept me focused on what was going on outside of me — what I needed to acquire or become — instead of my interior life, where God speaks to me.
A new worldview
Abundant grace and overflowing love is God’s answer every time I show up feeling empty-handed or lacking.
But I needed to grow into that worldview of abundance. I thought it meant that I could run up my credit card and the universe would pay off the balance at the end of the month. I thought it meant I could say yes to every opportunity, every request for my help, my time, my attention, every slice of pizza and cocktail — but that way of living left me broke, bloated, and exhausted.
Abundance never meant more obligations than my day could hold, more queso than my stomach could contain. Instead, I found abundance within: grace, overflowing love, infinite second chances, unlimited do-overs, a God who watches us get it wrong over and over again and keeps cheering us on, keeps pointing out our wins even when we bring Him losses.
So what can we do to seek a worldview of abundance, and why does it matter? How do we make the long journey from head to heart?
Learning to live abundantly
The abundant life is heavy on ‘being’ and light on ‘doing,’ heavy on ‘stillness’ and light on ‘hustle.’
When things feel left-of-center and out of control, it might be a sign that we need to get things right on the inside rather than looking to fix what’s going on outside. Some questions that might help in that movement:
- Have I been caring for my mind, body, and soul?
- Have I been practicing gratitude?
- Have I been intentional about how I spend my time?
- Have I been built up and empowered by my close relationships?
- Have I been generous with my time, talent, and treasure in my community?
- Have I been quieting my mind and heart in prayer daily?
We can’t hustle or think or life-hack our way into a full, grace-filled way of living, no matter how hard we try. Embracing the abundant life has always been an inside job: heart work, not hard work. All we ever needed was a change of perspective, to see ourselves as God sees us, not as we think He should see us.
Nothing major has changed in my life that would make it better the way I thought it would over the last year. I haven’t suddenly come into a large sum of money. Publishers aren’t competing to give me a book deal with a fat advance. There are still only 24 hours in a day, and thanks to my unborn child, I’m working with fewer waking hours because Mama needs sleep y’all. Did I mention that all my pants currently have elastic waistbands?
And yet, with full confidence, I can tell you that this life is abundant, full of grace and joy, full of mistakes and forgiveness, false starts and successes — every ordinary moment of it.