A Message from Fr. Jim

Posted on May 29, 2020 in: General News

Abundance or Scarcity?

Gratitude is a foundational habit of the heart, it is a wisdom born from experience, it is a strength grounded in God’s everlasting freely given faithful love.

Gratitude opens our minds when we contend with challenge of living with either a scarcity or abundance mindset.  Now this is the half full/half empty, optimist/pessimist conversation, but it is more foundational.  Circumstances can leave us overwhelmed and distressed, easily being wary and protecting from fear of the worst case coming true.  But this challenge is about what our default screen is, the attitude we begin the day with, the conclusion we jump to when any experience offers a choice.

And I will suggest now that a scarcity mindset is fundamentally incorrect.  Let me use an example:  I often listen to fellow church goers suggest that evil is more powerful than grace, they contend the power of evil is crafty, devious and overpowering.  They constantly worry and think about the devil and evil and perdition, God’s grace might be good, but it is losing the battle, it is flimsy in comparison with the rage and harm of evil.  The history of humanity offers them footnote after footnote; popular culture entertains with the morality play seen repeatedly that evil can only be defeated by violence.  Love your enemies, what a joke, good luck with that.  My response is if you believe, you have only one choice, to take your belief in the goodness of God, in God’s triumph over evil in the passion death and resurrection of Christ, and to live absolutely trusting that God’s love is enough, not only enough, it is enough because it is absolutely abundant, and is offered again and again and again, it is limitless.

This is not to suggest that we simply ignore evil and the effect of evil.  It is not to suggest that we are always fully equipped with every skill and capacity, that we are never in any circumstance overmatched.  It is not to suggest that deprivation, that state of being in which we encounter a lack of what is necessary to truly live is not a real and powerful challenge; deprivation is created by sinful selfishness both individually and systematically, it has real power. Rather it is about how do we stay the course, work through the disasters and troubles, the deprivations life inevitably offers.  God’s love is ever present and abundant, that is our source of wisdom and strength.

How do you see your fellow humans?  Are they companions or competitors? Is what others have a threat to you? Must I acquire, protect and defend? Is life a zero sum game, always with winners and losers? Are the generous chumps and losers? Easily fooled, often taken advantage of.  If you adopt the scarcity mindset, if you accept its conditions, you can only answer these questions yes, and that all others are in one way or another, partly or completely; competitors.  I’m sure marriages fail because of selfishness and faithlessness, but marriages can survive and thrive if, even in the worst of times, partners continue to see the other and believe that the other is really, truly a companion, someone with whom we can find the way to cooperate.  Scarcity mindset feeds us a lie that suggests we must hold close to and protect that which would enliven us, if only we would freely give and risk the loss, for love.  I’m not married, but I know this from observing, there is no lasting love that does not require risk, but risk that can be confidently entered into if I trust that our love, when it is an expression of God’s faithful love, can conquer that which is small and petty in us and in our partner, and build something that cannot be destroyed, a bond that is indissoluble.

So, say no to the temptation of the scarcity mindset, that there is “never enough”.  Don’t reject God’s promises, God’s faithfulness, God’s abundance of goodness given to us freely, without cost.  We simply can’t use it up, but we can profitably use it in every instance to stay the course, to keep on.  Be one who trusts abundance.  Do we daily lack? Sure, we don’t have every skill, enough resource, full strength, beauty or intelligence.  But we have one another, and confident because of God’s abundant love, when we look at one another, we see companions and even more, friends.

And so back to gratitude; an abundance mindset has as its fruit, gratitude; which leads to compassion and cooperation, which in turn leads to greater abundance.  An abundance mindset is right thinking about who we are, and why we are, and again, that God’s love is infinite and faithful, a gift that can only be embraced by willingly giving it away to others.

Fr. Jim