“There’s enough to go around.”
Those five words revolutionized my life. I was in my first year of graduate school, training to become a therapist. I was at a point in the school year when I had begun to question whether or not I had chosen the correct career path. I was immersed in abstract theory and starting to wonder if healing and wholeness were even possible outcomes of therapy. Every Thursday, I would ride the bus from my house in Tacoma to the University District of Seattle, then catch a transfer to the Green Lake neighborhood. In total, this commute took nearly 2 hours. I would go to therapy for an hour, and then head to classes downtown. The bus ride provided a cushioned entrance into the day, allowing me to leave home behind and enter into the new and exhausting intersection of academia and introspection.
Riding the bus for that length of time also put me in close proximity with people far different than myself. While we shared that time on the bus at the beginning of our days, we would surely end up in very different places. On this particular Thursday I was aware of the exhausted faces of mothers, young people sacrificing so much to get to their classes at the university, the older woman manically talking to herself, and the man who appeared to have not woken up in a bed that morning. As I walked into my therapist’s office, I flung my bag to the ground, and announced: What’s the point of this? Why do I get the luxury of sitting in this cozy, safe office getting my needs attended to, when the people I sit next to on the bus do not get this same privilege? And the money I’m spending to be here, shouldn’t that be spent on something more urgent, like feeding people, or paying someone’s bills?
At this point, my therapist was likely not surprised by my proclamation, as we had spent many sessions discussing the fear-induced “shoulds” I carried with me. She gently responded with the words, “There’s enough to go around. There’s enough goodness in the pot for us all to have a share.” Those words carried great power and would shift how I would cultivate space to care deeply for myself and others. It was not an algebra equation, where giving to one resulted in subtracting from the other. There was enough healing, joy, empathy, freedom, and life to go around.
I now understand this revelation through the terms “scarcity” and “abundance”. Theologian Walter Brueggeman describes the economy of scarcity being run by fear and comparison, while God’s kingdom runs on the economy of abundance in his essay “The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity” . We live into the myth of scarcity when we can’t celebrate our friend’s accomplishment out of bitterness no one has seen our own. We live into the myth when rest feels indulgent and selfish, resulting in burnout. We live into the myth when we compare our suffering to others, believing that one must stand in line for health and wholeness. Scarcity runs on the fuel of fear.
But perfect love casts out fear.
God’s way is a way of life, and life abundant. Scripture paints this picture vividly through a cup overflowing with blessing (Psalm 23:5). When we orient ourselves to a life operating out of abundance we say “Yes” to the fact we are dearly beloved. To have life abundant means to live out a radical faith that can simultaneously celebrate beauty and mourn injustice. Living out of abundance looks like a faith that can care deeply about a range of things in the world. The economy of abundance does not see the world with either/or lenses, but can hold the nuances of both/and. When we step away from the myth of scarcity and into the wild freedom of abundance, we sink deeper into the assurance that there is enough.
May we, Word Made Flesh, be a community that lives and serves out of abundance, defying the myth of scarcity, and instead saying “‘Yes” to life!
Director of Community Care