Moving from Scarcity to Abundance

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

– Portia Nelson,  There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk

What prevents us from fully living a generous life marked by a mindset of abundance instead of being trapped by scarcity? One reason is this: Our brains are wired for efficiency and adapt quickly to inputs. As one of my mentors says, “I do what I do because I did, ” and, “Practice makes permanent.”   

The abundance or scarcity mindsets we adopt from our parents, partners, close friends, or culture can shape our beliefs, especially money beliefs. And we often don’t know when beliefs are invisibly driving us.

Like an outdated computer operating system that once served us (now long replaced by newer technology), these beliefs impact our thinking and our behaviors silently and powerfully. They can keep us trapped. How can we break free and live fearlessly, abundantly?  

We are all familiar with Paul’s lament in Romans 15: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” What we do can be hard to change. Understanding why we do what we do can also be difficult. The first step for each of us is to pray for the Holy Spirit to amp up our noticing capacity. 

As believers, we have a loving Father to help our transformation. What do I notice about how I feel about abundance or scarcity in a particular situation?  What is the story I am telling myself about me/others in this moment? What do I do as a result of this story? What is the impact of my behavior? 

Getting a clear vision of the impact I’d like my behavior to have can help to clarify how I might show up differently. Only then might I be able to consider a new belief.   

An example might help. I am a Costco junkie. The story I tell myself is that I am being frugal and a good steward with grocery money. When an asterisk (also known as a “death star”) appears on a label at Costco, this signifies the item seasonal and won’t be restocked until the time is right. It often happens to cheese that I particularly like.

My reaction is to buy a lot (a scarcity mindset) so that I won’t run out. It’s hoarding, plain and simple. I believe there won’t be enough for me. The person I want to be believes that I will get what I need when I need it and that I don’t have to buy all that’s left before others do. Today, I left the death star cheese on the shelf.   

My eyes are open. I walk down another street. Free. Fearless. My Father will provide all I need in season. 

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