Friday, January 13, 2012

The Abundance Season

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
-Janis Joplin

I have been, as of late, in a season of abundance.  This point was brought home to me particularly keenly at the holidays.  As I struggled to put together wish-lists for myself and the kids it occurred to me that not only do we have all the things that we need, we also have just about everything we want as well.  Of course, the kids came up with all kinds of desires for Santa - most of which haven't even been invented yet.  But I became incredibly aware of how abundantly blessed we were. 

This abundance is not limited to the material, however.  While I am very grateful that we are not in a season of physical want, I am more grateful for the emotional contentment which has, sadly, been a very recent acquisition for me.  After my third child was born, I went through a rough period of (self-diagnosed) postpartum depression.  I spent several months in despair.  Another several months struggling to adjust to life with three kids under three.  Only very recently have my eyes been opened to the true joy of parenting my kids.  I have always loved them.  I am just beginning to really enjoy them.  I want nothing more than to stay home to raise them.  No more thoughts of retreat to a world full of adults and grown-up conversations.  I'm learning to relish the imaginative play and the endless conversations about trains and snowmen and "why why why?"  I am finally waking up in the morning with a sense that "all is right in the world."

And the more I thought about it, the more clear it became to me that abundance is not a physical season.  Abundance is a season of the soul.  You can be surrounded by riches, but never live in abundance.  You can achieve every physical or aspirational goal you set and still be impoverished.  Conversely, you can lack every physical comfort, but live with an attitude of abundance. I have divided a life of abundance into four different categories:

1) Material -
Clearly, not lacking in material comforts seems desirable.  And, to some extent, satisfying a desire for material abundance can be a vehicle to acquiring other types of abundance.  If you are not cold, hungry, lonely or in pain it can be easier to "feel" abundant in joy.  But one reaches a point at which material wealth can stand in the way of reaching true contentment.  A point at which our possessions begin to posses us.  The real key to life, is learning to decipher this fine line.  How much is just enough?  Where is the right balance between deprivation which distracts from contentment and avarice which clouds our judgment?  And how do we learn to live in abundance in spite of our material condition?

Ecclesiastes 5:10 says:
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. 

Perhaps the key, then, is recognizing the utility of physical wealth without allowing it to define us.  When we realize that we are defining ourselves based on our possessions (or lack thereof), perhaps it's time to stop and reflect on the other forms of abundance.  

2) Emotional-

Without emotional abundance, all other abundance is meaningless.  If you have a mansion full of riches but you don't feel content, you have nothing.  If you have the genius of Einstein but do not feel blessed, you have nothing.  If you spend your days hungry and cold, but find joy in living - then you have abundance.  Life has hills and valleys.  There will be "good days" and "bad days" for everyone.  The key to finding abundance is learning to weather the storms and cherish the calm.  

 Philippians 4:11-13 says:
For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry of facing either plenty of poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.

I spent most of my life as a "glass half empty" type.  I could find the negative in anything. And what did I reap from my attitude?  Depression.  Self-loathing.  Borderline-sociopathic shyness.  A huge, immovable weight on my shoulders.  Somewhere along the line, I learned to seek contentment.  Don't get me wrong - it's a daily struggle.  Some days I see the glass half full.  Some days it's mostly empty.  A lot of days, it's just half a glass.  But I'm learning.  I'm learning to laugh when everything seems to be going wrong.  I'm learning to rejoice in the moments of calm.  I'm learning to praise God for the sink of dirty dishes and the breathtaking sunsets.  I'm learning that most clouds do, in fact, have a silver lining.  The mess on the floor means I've been blessed with beautiful children.  The door that was shut on a dream means I have more time for the people I love most in my life.  The pain I suffered from teasing means I am more compassionate with others.  The more I am able to see contentment - to see abundance in my emotional state - the better equipped I am to find balance in my material state.  I can rejoice in my times of plenty and use my prosperity to benefit others.  I can strengthen myself to manage in times of need and want, without breaking my spirit.  Emotional abundance helps me to see more clearly, whatever my current state.  

3) Aptitudinal -
This past holiday season taught me more about abundance than possibly any other time in my life.  Not only did I experience a holiday of material richness, but I also experienced a holiday filled with a richness of talents.  Not only my own, mind you, but those of so many people I encountered.  Several blogs I came across devoted themselves to linking those who "had" with those who did not.  People listed needs and others fulfilled them.  And I was amazed to discover all the different meanings of "those who had."  Some people were blessed with monetary wealth.  They were able to pay bills for those who had lost incomes and were struggling financially.  Other people were blessed with an abundance of possessions.  They were able to pass along outgrown clothes, unused toys, and other items that fulfilled needs of others.  And some folks, who may have initially seemed to be struggling themselves, were blessed with a richness of talent.  They were not able to contribute money or toys - but they could knit a scarf to keep someone's child warm.  They could fashion a necklace for someone to give as a gift.  They could turn photos into memory books to create a keepsake for under the tree.  And some, who thought they had nothing at all to give, simply offered to pray.  

It dawned on me then - no matter how poor we think we are - no matter what we think we lack - we have all been blessed with an abundance of talent.  You have been given a gift that you can use to benefit others if you only look for a need.  And we all, however talentless we may feel, can get on our knees and intercede. 

4) Spiritual-
I have found true in my life, that spiritual abundance supersedes all other forms. When I am wanting in physical comforts, when my emotional coffers are depleted, when I feel as though I have no worth - spiritual abundance can pull me through.  In high school, when I was tired to the bone and prone to worrying myself sick, I taped this verse to my bedroom mirror.  

Matthew 6:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?    28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you  

Not only do I love the reminder that worry does nothing but waste away my time, I love the reminder that true joy and abundance is found in simplicity.  Birds don't worry about who has a nicer nest or what the latest fashions are.  Lilies don't care how many people read their blogs, how thin they are, or if they'll make straight As.  And yet they are some of the most majestic creations on Earth.  A field of lilies has an abundant beauty that takes my breath away.  When I quit my worrying, when I wake each day with a prayer of gratitude and an attitude of contentment, my life becomes beautiful - it becomes abundant.  

As I said - cultivating a season of abundance takes work.  It's a daily struggle. Even with my newfound awareness I still have to strive toward contentment.  I still write verses on my mirror.  I still have to pause, take a deep breath, and search for the silver lining.  Sometimes I have to dedicate a weekend to purging some of the material bounty that is threatening to overwhelm me.  But I'm finding the journey a little easier every day.  And I hope that the next time I come to a valley in one area of abundance, I can hold tight to the others and shore myself up.  I hope that I can pass a little abundance along to others.  Because, of course, the most abundant season of all is one that is filled with love.
Linking up with Poofy Cheeks


  1. Amen! Beautiful, well-expressed--and thank you! Blessings to you always.

  2. I love this post Cat! I can relate to this post on so many levels. I have always wanted more money or more this or more that. Lately I have had less money than ever (in my adult life), yet I feel so blessed and I know God will guide me through this! I too have finally felt that I can 'enjoy' my children, that I can balance time for myself and time for them, that I don't NEED to have that adult interaction - because after all - I have tons of support and friends in Blog Land! :)


I love feedback. Feel free to leave comments, ask questions or tell me a story. I'll try to respond to you in a timely manner.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...