For the last two years I chose to not take a full-time job. I wanted to explore, rebuild relationships, allow myself space to be authentic and ask risky questions without fear of being fired.

As I come to a close of this season, I am finding fear creeping up.

I’m running out of money and out of time to find a job. As I write this, I do not have any real prospects. I know I won’t end up on the streets, but the idea of being a burden to those around me is not only difficult to think about, but brings on unnecessary feelings of shame.

* Did I waste my time?
* Did I squander things too quickly and foolishly?
* Will people judge me for the choices I made

I’ve realized that as I sense the shrinking of my bank account and the shortness of my open calendar, I am feeling a sense of doom and fear that I haven’t felt in a long time. I’m spending less money on things, but even more than that, I think about how little money I have left all the time. I am not planning any more big trips and even feel guilty about the ones I’m taking because I know just how little time I have left to make something happen before I run out of money.

The fact that I have little money and little time left dominates my thinking right now

In reality, I will be fine. I can’t be unwise with things, but I have plenty for today. But that doesn’t do much to allay my fears. Maybe you’ve felt like this before—that no matter how many times you make it from day to day, you still feel afraid of running out.

You never feel like you have “enough” money.

This is what I’ve learned to call a Poverty Mentality: putting myself into survival mode before it is even necessary.

This mentality has spilled over into other areas of life.

A poverty mentality scavenges and hoards, looking for every possible thing to grab hold of.

My roommate described to me recently a situation with a little adopted Russian girl she had in her first grade classroom. She noticed that her classroom had started to smell worse by the day. With very little detective work, thanks to the fruit flies buzzing, she saw that this little Russian girl had been storing food in her desk for weeks. Her desk was full of rotten bananas, half eaten sandwiches, moldy cheese and more.

She had come from an orphanage where they didn’t get enough food, so with her new found abundance, she was afraid that the kitchen would dry up and so she needed to store for a rainy day.

She didn’t realize her new reality was actually filled with an overflowing abundance.

She could have been giving away the extra food the whole time or eating til her heart’s content, but instead she was holding back, out of fear.

How many of us do this?
And yet, when we hoard things, they go sour.

If I don’t feel like I am getting enough food, I will not only focus on getting food, but when I do, I will see it as precious and must either eat it quickly or hide it for later. Sharing is not an option.
If I feel like I don’t have enough time, then not only am I always trying to explain to people why I don’t have enough time, but giving any extra moments away is out of the question. When I live in a poverty mentality, it puts me in survival mode.

The problem is, this doesn’t just impact my boxes of time and money.

When I am fearful of not having enough time and money, I start to become fearful of not having enough of other things as well. I start to feel like maybe I don’t have enough love. Then what happens is I start hording love. I look for it wherever I can, even if it in unhealthy ways, because even a little love is better than none.

I seek out relationships where I can get something or that make me feel special.

I live out of my poverty instead of my abundance.

Beyond the fact that I look for love in all the wrong places, I feel like I have a scarcity of love, which means I can’t give it out. If I give out love, then there won’t be enough for me. Plus, I may not feel like I have any to give anyway.

It gets very simple.

I can’t text a friend to have a good week because I’m not sure they will text me back. Somehow if I give of myself and get nothing in return, then I will be more empty than I was before. If they have more love than me, then somehow I am deficient. It can get so bad that I can’t be happy for other people when they find love or adulation because I am too busy focusing on my own lack of it.

Jealousy overtakes me.

So I hoard my love and generosity so I don’t feel worse than before. The problem is, I have an abundance of love, not only from those around me, but an unending supply of love from a God who loves me.

If I can grasp that fact, that I am loved beyond measure and that I will never run out of that love, I can stop living out of a poverty mentality and live in my reality of abundance.

I bet that is why Paul said to his friends in Ephesus.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19.

I hope you live out of the abundance of love you’ve been given today.

By J.J Peterson

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