As mentioned in other posts on this blog, I am a recovered alcoholic and addict. Before recovery I was consumed with a crazy fear there wasn’t enough (fill-in-the-blank). Sure, it was an irrational fear; but it did not feel irrational at the time. It felt normal. That’s one of the peculiarities of the disease.
It seems the American culture is – at least in part – dependent on maintaining or cultivating the fear of there isn’t enough. Whether it be fossil fuel, parking spaces, food, jobs, safety, money, TV programming, romance, honesty, Social Security, or love, we are continually reminded “there isn’t enough”. Even the 2016 presidential campaign has me jonesing for more… options. The drinking version of me was terrified there wasn’t enough beer or Crown Royal.
Alcoholics Anonymous offered a different perspective: one is too many and a hundred isn’t enough. One long-time AA’er eloquently put it this way:
I wouldn’t trade my life, my family, my job, or my sanity for a drink. But for the second drink, you can have it all.
I call it “alcoholic economics”. But it isn’t limited to alcoholics and alcohol. That dysfunctional mentality steals our joy and infects our ability to find contentment anywhere.
Maybe there isn’t enough (fill-in-the-blank). Or maybe there is. In either case, focusing on it is not healthy or spiritual. The Genesis story tells us God created a beautiful and plentiful place for us; and placed us in the heart of it. And it pleased Him to do so. The Bible tells us that God is our provider, and we should not fear or be anxious for what we need. Which brings to mind the first of the Ten Commandments:
“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3
When I focus on whether there is or isn’t enough, my attention is not on God. It’s on me. I allow a fear/thing/thought/feeling/drink to take God’s place in my mind and heart. I cannot imagine any scenario where that pleases God. On my best days I remember to tell God that I am grateful… even as I am aware that I am also undeserving of His generosity and goodness. An attitude of gratitude corrects my vision. Instead of feeling down, I start looking up.
The tendency toward over-indulgence and hoarding, and the anxiety-producing fear factory that feeds it, is rooted in seeds of selfishness and greed. Eventually those grow into a thorny thicket of entitlement and pride and lust. We who succumb to conspicuous consumption are never satisfied. The message that there isn’t enough is really telling us that we aren’t enough. The implication is that we wouldn’t be so needy.
In Don Henley’s song My Wedding Day, one line deeply resonates with me:
“To want what we have, to take what we’re given, with grace.
God knows what I need and He has always provided it, even when it was an unpleasant experience. Hindsight affords the luxury of seeing where He steered me from utter destruction, even eternal destruction. When I surrender my extravagant and outlandish expectations (entitlement), I find peace and clarity. I’ve searched every shelf in my grocery store; peace and clarity are never in stock.
Life today doesn’t look like I once hoped it would. That’s not because God hasn’t provided but because I hoped for the wrong kind of life. After all, I should be lining up with God’s will; not expecting Him to line up with mine.