A few months ago, a new sister, Allison, posted a photo on Instagram with the caption, “What some would deem ostentatious, you call it appropriate. While some raise their eyebrows suspiciously, you pour it out indiscriminately. Where some only see scarcity, you reveal excess extravagance. When some, out of brokenness, play the game of withholding, you play the game of WASTEFULLY ABUNDANT.”
I, as I do, screen shot, read it to Stephen 15 times and carried it around inside for a long time. When I went to a retreat Allison co-hosted in October, the word God gave me was abundance. That weekend, the word and concept were confirmed a million times over, and I left certainly feeling full.
Before we came to Thailand, while my heart was trembling, I felt God whisper, there’s more than enough as I daily recited my list of lack.
In stark contrast, this season in Thailand has felt anything but abundant. I have not been shy about the pain and loss we’ve experienced this time around. The bookend to our finally closing the door on this dream for our young family is impending death of one of my most beloved people. Death has been close to us.
It has felt to be a living, breathing, morphing, relentless juxtaposition; forcing me to try and reconcile what my eyes were seeing and what my inside was hearing.
There’s this tree here. Well, there’s lots of them, but there’s one I see every time we take one of the back ways to some of the bigger roads. The beauty of this tree in bloom is assaulting.
This tree is, in and of herself, a juxtaposition. She lay bare, almost dead-looking, the majority of the time. No leaves to speak of, and skinny branches that give neither shade or space for nests.
The blooms look misplaced. And the tree herself, never in an auspicious place- always pushing up and forward out of canals or ditches or corners of lots.
And what’s more, she births these blooms just for the purpose of the bloom. They fall, ignored and driven over, and die. Yet, she blooms.
If I were to rattle off a list of the traits I dream of having and the characteristics I hope to mark me, radically generous, intentionally inclusive, ruthlessly authentic, abundantly accepting would top that list.
The majority of the time, however, I would characterize myself as desperate, living from a place of scarcity, afraid to share. Afraid there won’t be enough left over for me. Scared that if I pull out a chair for her, there will be no one to pull one out for me.
I cling to security, spun into the lie that I can control my comfort and my kids’ emotions and perceptions if I hustle enough, save enough, do enough.
Risk is not welcome in my heart,
Forgiveness feels like condoning and making a fool of myself.
Confession of addiction and brokenness feel like vulnerability that will be used against me, the deadbolt to doors I’m not allowed a key.
The opinions of others, what I perceive they perceive of me and my life and my choices and my family, rule the day. Will eyebrows raise, will support be taken away, will conversations about me not including me happen- what will the cost be of the disapproval and judgment?
So, no, I don’t feel like I am radically generous or intentionally inclusive or ruthlessly authentic or abundantly accepting. I feel scared, small and fragile the majority of the time.
This tension does what all tension must, it broke. I was on the motorbike, coming up to this tree, my tree, and I pulled over. I sat on the bike, across the small street from her and was overcome with emotion. In one moment, in perfect clarity, the tension resolved: the abundance comes from within.
No other thing in nature approaches this tree and gives her permission, a go-ahead, to bloom with staggering and aggressive beauty. Those blooms are hers and she presents them at the exact right moment as she is genetically created to do.
No matter where she is. No matter who is watching. No matter the nests being built or shade being cast or pomp given to her position, she blooms.
What is in her, what is hers from the start, comes forth.
And it was in that moment that I felt the Spirit clearly show me how I’ve been looking for my abundance everywhere but inside myself. That my perceived lack was interpreted from eyes that never turned in.
It is not contingent on outside circumstances. There are no qualifiers outside my own heart and mind that give way to an abundant atmosphere. I am the one who gives myself permission to live in extreme and radical abundance.
It’s always been inside. The very thing I’ve fought for and been frantic over has been mine the entire time.
Sitting at the tree, resting in the break, allowing the waves of this place to wash over me, these words strung together an anthem, a mantra, a commitment, a benediction I gave myself:
May I stand unapologetically where I am, rooting down deep, regardless of invitation or office.
May I be so clear, so single-minded in my purpose, that nothing but my own intention will deter me.
May I confidently hold the boundary lines of my territory and unswervingly set the atmosphere:
Where there is lack, may I turn out pockets and empty accounts in the name of More Than Enough.
Where there is withholding, may I appear irresponsible and overwhelming with my open and willing hands.
Where there is fear, may I be an aggressive purveyor of love and proximity.
Where there are locks on doors, may I ruthlessly pursue the forgotten and looked-over and build expansion upon expansion until all are housed.
Where there is pain, may I push through tears and reputation and self until only light is seen and felt.
And where there seems no reason or point, may I create assaulting, arresting and honest beauty that is perfect in its time.
May the God of the yellow blossom tree give us all the clarity and freedom we need to see that there is nothing, not one thing, we lack- that everything we need is already ours.