You know, I don't think I'm the first to ride this roller coaster.
In today's first-world, modern-times, we're overwhelmed with messages that tell us what it should look like to be successful. It means having a certain kind of house, providing a certain kind of home for your family, having a certain level of income, a certain amount of free time, and a lot of things you should be able to buy on a whim whenever you need them. Not only that, but we're expected to update those things - wardrobes, phones, furniture, dishes, cars, computers, shoes, hairstyles, foods, TV-shows, movies, holiday decorations, you name it- and get it now, on a whim. And if you can't keep up, well, you know - it's actually going to be OK.
You see, after going on this roller coaster ride in my head I realized (finally!) that the root of my anxiety is that I'm choosing to see what I 'lack' or might one-day lack, rather than remembering and realizing the abundance that fills my life.
First of all, I need to remember that I've got it good, I mean real good. Re-focusing this has changed my perspective.
In this cycle of worry I met with a friend and neighbor, a woman who inspires me in every way, Sandra Ungor, and she helped me remember that everything is a phase, and re-focus to the abundance in my life. Then I read an article in Conspire Magazine called Wealth and Worry, and that too helped me shift more fully into a different way of looking at the water glass.
The article talked about Luke chapter 12:15-31 (see below for the full passage).
In short, this passage talks about a rich man who has an abundance, but is worried about what he might not have int he future. So he tears down his current store houses and builds new, BIGGER and BETTER store houses to store his grain and wealth.
This is me. You see, I have an abundance of gifts- from my family, to my health, to my wealth, not exactly my bank account though ;) (although just the fact that I have a bank account shows that I have a certain extent of wealth), my safety, my home, my clothes..you name it! I have so much. Yet, somehow I want to store up more to ensure that I can be merry, relax and enjoy the future. When my brothers and sisters around the world don't have one-tenth of the luxuries I have I am still discontented and wanting more.
And I realize, that this discontentment is also a choice.
Really, where would it stop? at what point would I truly be content?
I have all my basic needs provided for and more, and yet I keep striving for bigger, more, better, 'guaranteed'.
Have I forgotten that God has always, always, always been there? Always provided? How many times did a check come in the mail (randomly and unexpectedly) just in the nick of time, when my account was almost to zero? Am I not on a 100% tuition paid scholarship to pursue my dream goal? Who got me that?! How many times did I 'wish' for something, only to find it free on the side of the road a few days or weeks later? How many times did I wish for an experience only to live it out shortly after? When did God not ever show up, and like he does with 'the birds of the air' care for me and my needs? Not only my needs but my selfish desires, and luxurious wishes? WHo am I to be discontent?
But I can't be mad at myself. That does no one any good. No, I just have to realize that I did the most human thing (since the fall) - I am forgetting WHO God is, that I am His child, and that although I don't deserve it He will provide.
But what does this mean for those who are living, for example, in disaster right now? In the Philippines? In the slums? In abuse? In hunger? In fear? In tragedy and sadness, brokenness and pain? Sickness? Why should I expect God to provide for me when there's nothing more special about me than those brothers and sisters, and well - look at their situation? Doesn't their suffering prove that God can't provide for all of us? That He can't protect us from pain, and suffering, disaster, terrible situations? SHouldn't we store up all we have to help make sure we don't become "like them"? OR at least do all we can to ensure as best as we can we don't get closer than we have to?
Luke 12:15-31 as recorded by (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+12&version=NIV)
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom,and these things will be given to you as well.
I've got a reliable, loving, dependable, God-seeking husband who helps me in every aspect of my life and is committed to me and our children. That right there - is more than 24,718,000 other children in the US who are raised in single-parent households have, not to mention the millions of single-parents who are raising them. Beyond that, there are billions more single-parents, orphans, widows, and widowers in the world. I am among the minority, in that I'm not alone, I have a dependable loving caring gentile God-loving husband who is alive and present. Yes. I've got it good.
Now lets talk about my financial situation.
Ok, no we don't make a lot of money but wealth is more than just the income or your money in the bank. I come from middle and upper class families that are never going to let me fall down, and support us now so we can "have it easy" while we pursue our own privilege to "improve ourselves". Again, I am in the minority. Not only do I have family to support me if anything 'goes wrong', but I have the privilege and the option to pursue an education. Or not. It's my choice, which is the most profound part of it all.
You know, I could keep going on about my wealth: my health, my opportunity, the safety of my home, and place I live, the support system I have, the ability to pursue opportunities that arise.
When I concentrate on the abundance, everything else melts.