Scarcity is a Shame Conversation


It was one year ago this week. Brian, Asher and I were in Shanghai. It was our final day and we were headed back to our friend's house to pack our bags and head to the airport. We'd experienced such care and generosity during our 7 days in Shanghai, which had highlighted a few glaring truths I didn't like.

One, we could never do for others what had been given to us that week. We didn't have the capacity because of our own beliefs and realities.

Two, we wanted to be those kinds of people who bless others extravagantly, without strings attached. 

I knew enough of our friend's story to know that abundance wasn't always a part of her life. Sitting in the backseat, at a stoplight, turning left toward her house, I blurted out my burning question,

"Have you always had an abundance mentality?" 

I don't remember the exact words that came out of her mouth next, but I remember her relaxed posture, the glow on her face, her effortless smile, and the truth of her story generously shared.

Sitting in the backseat of her car in Shanghai I sensed a deep shift in my spirit. I sensed a journey before me that would move my self-limiting beliefs from scarcity to abundance.

For the last year, God has been dismantling my scarcity mentality piece by piece. I was arrested by Fr. Richard Rohr's daily meditation and have continued to do inner work to replace this false belief with truth. 

There have been several key moments this last year - primarily around finances - where I've had the opportunity to live in abundance or scarcity. I'm sure you cannot relate. <wink wink>

This last week has been another giant test. 

Disappointment. Shock. Loss. Conflict. As I've processed another painful experience, I've wrestled with looming questions:

  • Am I enough?
  • Am I good?
  • Can I make it? 
  • Will there be enough for me and my family?
  • Is what I do valuable?
  • Do I deserve this?

The truth is: Scarcity is a shame conversation.

Shame tells us we aren't enough; we aren't worthy; we are bad. But that's an inner conversation filled with lies, darkness, and scarcity. The truth is that we are loved beyond anything.

Abundance says there is enough, even beyond what we can ask or imagine. Abundance says there is a hope and a future. Abundance reminds us that what happened yesterday doesn't dictate the future. Abundance calms the angry fears that we don't have to hustle for our worthiness or our paychecks. Abundance says there's more than enough room at the table for all of us. Abundance confirms that grace is found in the quiet, not the earning. Abundance focuses on what you are gaining rather than what you are losing. Abundance illuminates opportunities and potential. Abundance shifts your perspective from hoarding and possessiveness to generosity and open-handedness.

Abundance is love. THIS IS THE PERSON I WANT TO BE! 

I'm still wrestling with all this, friend. I haven't arrived. I'm not bursting in an abundance mentality all day, every day. But I am steadily plodding to replace those questions with statements of truth. And it is some of the most liberating inner work I've ever done. 

My hunch is that you could do some of that work, too. Am I right? Our society, experiences, and sometimes those closest to us will reinforce that shame conversation in whatever language we are most comfortable to accept. It can be insidious and unannounced. It can surprise you like an intruder and take over your day. But shame is not welcomed to stay. Scarcity is as much of a perspective to accept as abundance.

I'll close with this beautiful piece of poetry by Tara Sophia Mohr from Your Other Names. You can see the abundance oozing out of her words and imagery ... even when scarcity is ever-available to believe.

Even in the struggle, you are loved.
You are being loved not in spite of the hardship, but through it.
The thing you see as wrenching, intolerable, life's attack on you,
is an expression of love.
There is a part of us that fears and protects
and defends and expects,
and has a story of the way it's supposed to turn out.
That part clinches in fear, feels abandoned and cursed.
There is another part, resting on the floor
of the well within, that understands;
this is how I'm being graced, called, refined by fire.
The secret is it is all love.
It's all doorways to truth.
It's all opportunities to merge with what is.
Most of us don't step through the door frame.
We stay on the known side.
We fight the door, we fight the frame, we scream and
hang on.
On the other side, you are one
with the earth, like the mountain.
You hum with life, like the moss.
On the other side, you are more beautiful:
wholeness in your bones, wisdom in your gaze,
the sage-self and the surrender heart alive.