In January, I made it super clear to myself that I wanted to reflect on the past year — which honestly meant reflecting on the last two years because it’s all been a blur. I didn’t feel ready or emotionally sturdy enough to make actual goals, but I knew I could look at actions from the last year that were fruitful and ones that weren’t.
Some of the reflection time came in the form of a move in December (of all months!). We had bins unopened from the last move, items in drawers that served no purpose, droves of clothing the kids had outgrown and could be given away. All my collecting had to be undone, and it was really annoying and uncomfortable to face the ways in which physical items made me feel comfort — if only for a short time.
When I was a child, our family grew up on welfare. There is no shame in that and the ways in which it shaped me. But to that end, we just didn’t have a lot of things. And if we did, it was definitely from a garage sale, second-hand. We lived off the extras of others for a long time, and while we never went without, there was always this thought in the back of my mind that there was never enough.
This way of thinking — and, in effect, living — trickled into our marriage. We barely had enough to make ends meet. Date night was scrounging for change in the couch to snag an M&M McFlurry. We were always scrambling from paycheck to paycheck, and then throw in a new baby — finances were tight! But I had grown up knowing how to be resourceful. I was scrappy. I took coupons out of my neighbor’s recycle boxes so I could use them that week, and I saved everything — scraps of fabric, tissue paper from presents, leftover food just in case. Birthday money sometimes went to groceries. It was nothing to feel sorry about for ourselves; it was just how it was. And I truly believe being poor served me for a time.
But what about when what used to be helpful becomes a hindrance? No matter how successful I’ve become financially, I have a nagging voice in my head that tells me there’s not enough. So if I see a ceramic duck I like at the thrift store (I know, really niche lake decorating over here!), I think twelve ceramic ducks will make me even happier! If one pair of nice, stretchy denim fits amazingly, I bet thirty-four pairs would make my body feel even better! If one glass of wine is nice, wouldn’t four be even more satisfying? If one craft project is so relaxing after a busy season, I should buy supplies for twenty craft projects! You can see how this thought process can become life-disrupting and unhelpful.
As I reflected on the past two years of deep discomfort and pain, I saw personal patterns which no longer served me. Just as a gentle, light snow can accumulate over time to bring the roof down, my feelings of lack were making me feel heavier and heavier. It was only when I felt my own roof begin to crack from the weight of all my things that I finally turned to God and asked Him to change me. And I don’t mean my behaviors. I needed Him to change me from the depths of my soul and show me His abundance for me — how He’ll always provide, how He always has.
I often think if I can just change my outward behavior, it will do the trick. But as I get older, I’ve learned our souls crave so much more than playing whack-a-mole with our actions. In the end, it takes repentance from the core issue and asking God to change me because I can’t do it in my own strength. The process is generally much slower than I like, and I have to sit in the mess, the pig pen, until I decide I no longer want to feast on rotten scraps when my Father has a real feast prepared for me.
But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.”
Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)
I am the one so desperately in need of God to meet me in my brokenness. I am the one who needs to come to my senses after leaving home and to trust that God’s gentle love will find me, no matter how far I tend to stray. The best news is this: You are not so far gone that He can’t find you. His abundance is available and accessible to you even now. And your mess is not so disastrous that His mercy cannot save you. Thanks be to God!Leave a Comment