BETTER THAN HAPPY – Episode 231
Christmas morning, 7am, our children filed slowly into our dark bedroom, carrying a candle-lit lantern and singing Christmas carols. They then presented Bryant and me with a large tray with hot chocolate, in four different flavors, mugs, a tea kettle of water, milk, and candy canes. We spent thirty minutes as a family, all gathered on our bed, sipping cocoa together before we went out to see what presents were under the tree. Such a sweet way to wake up Christmas morning. It was so kind of the children to serve us in that way.
Compare that to the night prior: Christmas Eve. We spent dinner with my sister and her husband, who had put a lot of effort into this feast. My children pushed their way to the front of the line for food, took every last fresh roll, and literally finger-picked their favorite ingredients out of the salad, leaving wilted greens and tomatoes for everyone else. They asked for their presents to be given them first, and took twice as much cake as anyone else in the company. And then, after all this, they wanted to go home because they were “bored”.
I was embarrassed and frustrated. But I really had to put those emotions away before I talked to them about their behavior.
But talk to them, I did.
And I have been thinking and praying about this weakness in their characters ever since.
Today’s podcast, I felt, was in part, an answer to my prayers.
Is it possible that my children, that evening, were looking at the world through a “scarcity mindset”?
“Abundance is the belief that there is a lot of goodness in our lives. My life is plentiful. I have plenty. I can get whatever I need. I can even get more of what I want. There’s enough available for myself and everyone else in the world.
Scarcity says, There’s not enough. Scarcity says, We’ve got to hurry and get ours, or someone else will get it first, and then we’ll suffer. That’s scarcity, right? And it’s fine to be competitive and want to win when we’re playing sports, but in the majority of our life, this game that we try to play, this race that we’ve created, doesn’t serve us well. The race happens because we think that there’s a shortage of the ‘good things of life’.
You will recognize when you’re in scarcity, because you’ll be in a rush. It isn’t very clear-headed about decisions, and sometimes it’s even irrational…. It’s rooted in survival… the truth is that scarcity forces selfishness. It does, right? Because if there isn’t enough to go around, then who do we have to protect first? Ourselves.”
I thought this was a problem specific to my children. But, after Bry and I discussed the idea of living in scarcity versus living in abundance, I realized that I too, at times, live in a scarcity mindset.
Time. I treat my days as if there is a scarcity of time. Watching my children grow, I worry that I don’t have enough time with them. And when I get some time with Bry, it always leaves me wanting more time.
“The best place to begin is to be abundant about what you already have…”
Jody shared in her podcast a blog post by Glennon Doyle. I want to use the rest of this post to re-post. After discussing scarcity with Bry, I was left with the question, So what do I do about it? Let me try perspectacles:
I’ve always loved my kitchen, but after seeing pictures (of newer kitchens), I found myself looking at it through new, critical eyes.
Maybe it was all wrong. Maybe the 80s counters, laminate cabinets, mismatched appliances and clutter really were mistakes I should try to fix. I stood and stared, and suddenly my kitchen looked shabby and lazy. I wondered if that meant I was shabby and lazy too, because our kitchens are nothing if not reflections of us, right?
I decided I’d talk to Craig and make some calls about updates. But as I lay down to sleep, I remembered this passage from Thoreau’s Walden.
‘I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.’
Walden reminds me that when I feel lacking, I don’t need new things, I need new eyes with which to see the things I already have. So when I woke up this morning, I walked into my kitchen wearing fresh perspectacles. Here’s what I saw.
REFRIGERATOR. You guys, I have a refrigerator. This thing magically makes food cold. I’m pretty sure in the olden days, frontiers women had to drink warm Diet Coke. Thank you, precious kitchen.
FOOD INSIDE REFRIGERATOR. Inside my refrigerator is food, healthy food that so many parents would give anything to be able to feed their children. Not me. When this food runs out, I’ll just jump into my car to get more. It’s ludicrous, really. It’s like my family hits the lottery every freaking morning.
KITCHEN SINK AND FAUCET. This crazy thing is a water faucet. I pull this lever and clean water pours out every time, day or night. Mamas everywhere spend their entire day walking miles to and from wells for just a single bucket of this, and I have it right here at my fingertips. I’m almost embarrassed to say that we also have one of these in each of our two bathrooms, and one in the front yard with which to wash our feet. We use clean drinking water to wash our feet.
KITCHEN FLOOR. This is our kitchen floor. It’s not fancy, but it’s perfect for our most important kitchen activity, dancing. When Chase was three, a librarian asked a room full of kids. What do we do in the kitchen? Everyone else called out cook, or eat, but Chase yelled out, dance.
COFFEE MAKER. I can’t even talk about this thing. Actually, let’s take a moment of reverent silence, because this machine is the reason all my people are still alive. It turns magical beans into a life-saving nectar of Gods every morning, on a timer.
KITCHEN DESK. And you guys, look. This is the kitchen corner where I keep all my kids’ school stuff. My kids go to a free school with brilliant teachers and a loving administration, and they’re safe there. The school sends flyers home about programs and classes and clubs to make my kids’ hearts bigger and softer, and their brains sharper, and their bodies healthier. This corner reminds me every day that my kids have at their fingertips what so many around the world are giving their lives for, quality education. When I wear my perspectacles, I can’t look at this corner without a heart explosion.
My perspectacled kitchen tour taught me two things this morning. I’m insanely lucky and I’m finally free. In terms of parenting, marriage, home, clothes, I will not be a slave to the tyranny of trend any longer. I’m almost 40 years old and no catalog is the boss of me anymore.
I am free. I’m a grown up now. I know what looks good on me, and that doesn’t change every three months. I know how I like my house. I like it cute and cozy and a little funky, and I like it to feel lived in and worn, and I like the things inside of it to work. That’s all.
And for me, it’s fine that my house’s interior suggests that I might not spend every waking moment thinking about how it looks. Sometimes it seems that our entire economy is based on distracting women from their blessings. Producers of stuff need to find 10,000 ways to make women feel ‘less than’ about our clothes, kitchens selves, so that we will keep buying more.
My kitchen is beautiful because it is full of beauty, and so is yours. Today, I shall keep my perspectacles super-glued to my face, and feel insanely grateful instead of lacking, and I will look at my home and my people and my body and say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. This is all more than good enough, all of it. https://momastery.com/blog/2014/08/11/give-liberty-give-debt/