I sat on the porch this morning drinking coffee and soaking in the morning. It’s been sprinkling off and on all morning but not enough to keep the mockingbirds and the doves from their vibrant singing and cooing. It’s been unseasonably cool and overcast this morning, but the birds reminded me Spring is really here.
It’s times like these I see how blessed I am. I most certainly don’t deserve it. I spent most of my life making poor choices and living the way addiction dictated how I live. It wasn’t until almost twenty years ago that I finally surrendered, choosing life, and living in the Spirit as best I can. I haven’t been wealthy – this is not another “Prosperity Gospel” tale – but I’ve always had enough. Enough truly is enough…
I was speaking with a friend the other day. They have lived a life of escaping poverty. They grew up in the rural Midwest where the average income was less than ten thousand dollars a year (substantially less) and they didn’t even have electricity for many years of their young life. It’s still difficult for me to remember that there were (and are) people who lived like that in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As a result, they spend time worrying about never having enough and the fear of losing what they have.
I have also lived in poverty in the past, but mine was of my own making. It was something I never imagined growing up in an upper middle-class home in the suburbs. The fear and constant looking over my shoulder and harming the very ones I loved was something I never intended, but it became more real as my addiction progressed. I often fail to understand the trauma that comes with poverty forced on someone by birthplace and circumstance. I can’t pretend to know the fear that comes with falling back into such a state. I can, however, be present to the reality of my friend.
I believe that has led to so much introspection over the last few weeks. Most of the fear has been removed through my years of recovery. I’m no longer confused. As Brennan Manning says, “Everything is grace.” I have what I have, not because of my own efforts, but because God has graciously provided enough – enough of life’s necessities so I can share and be of service to those around me. I work hard because I have something to offer the world around me. As such, it’s become much easier to live in the world and to be present.
Saint Francis said, “Above all the grace and gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” It constantly amazes me when I find joy in driving in rush hour traffic because the bluebonnets and other wildflowers are in full bloom along the side of the freeway. When I let go of who I think I am, both when I have an over-inflated ego or tell myself I’m the scum of the Earth – I’m free to acknowledge what a loving God thinks of me. I see the God lives in everything that surrounds me.
“We have very little, so we have nothing to be preoccupied with. The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have, the more free you are.”– Mother Teresa
As I sit at my desk writing this morning, I have four dogs sleeping all around my feet. Ricky and Lucy – the “twins” have exhausted themselves playing together. Jameson is laid across my feet, most likely keeping me working (I’m afraid to move but my foot’s going to sleep!). Sadie is gently snoring by my side. I’m not sure life will get any better. They remind me constantly that I’m important to them and somehow, it’s a constant reminder that God loves me unconditionally. They remind me that “everything is grace” …
If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count more than birds.
Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller. All this time and money wasted on fashion – do you think it makes much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby beside them.
If God gives such attention to the wildflowers… don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do what’s best for you. What I’m trying to do is get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving… Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your human concerns will be met.”Matthew 6.27-33 (The Message – Jesus quoted by Eugene Peterson)