Is your cup half full or half empty?
Is your life filled with gratitude or complaints?
In other words, do you live a life of abundance or scarcity?
Scarcity is defined as a state of being scarce or in short supply. Do you feel like your life is one of scarcity? You would be happy if you were just one more rung up the ladder for your job, had the Tesla instead of the Toyota Prius, had three kids instead of two, or lived in Hawaii instead of Seattle. The list can be endless of your wants. Those who live in scarcity don’t have a propensity to give because they always feel they’ve received the shorter end of the stick in any situation. They live in constant shortage.
People convince themselves that they have been robbed when they have not, in fact, been robbed. Such thinking comes from a wretched allegiance to the notion of scarcity—from the belief that the world is a place of dearth, and that there will never be enough of anything to go around. The motto of this mentality is: Somebody else got mine.
~Elizabeth Gilbert, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”
Abundance, on the other hand, is defined as a state or condition of having a large quantity of something. If you don’t feel like your life is one of scarcity, do you feel like your life is one of abundance? You would be happy with your current job situation, driving your Prius, your two happy and healthy kids, and living in Seattle. Those who live in abundance are grateful for what they have. They live in plentifulness, even though they could have more, be more, and do more. They’re present, alive, and give freely of their resources, money, time, and energy.
When you believe in abundance, you believe there are enough of God’s blessings—enough fulfillment, enough opportunity, enough happiness, and enough love—out there for everyone.
~Nick Vujicic, “Life Without Limits”
I’ve tried to live a life of abundance, especially in these past few years. I’ve been blessed to have traveled the world, to have a loving and supporting family, and to have my every basic need and want met. I’ve learned that what I have and what I’m doing right now is enough. I’ve learned that life is better when lived in abundance.
But sometimes it’s not that easy to actually live a life of abundance rather than scarcity. During the holidays, this conflicting feeling between scarcity and abundance is intensified.
On a trip to Target before Christmas, I successfully bought everything I could have ever wanted; I stocked up on beer and wine for holiday parties, bought some things for the house, and even bought some Christmas presents for myself including a football and basketball (which are real luxuries for me as I live in a household with my wife and two little girls). On my way out of the parking lot of Target, I noticed a middle-aged woman sitting down with a sign which read “Homeless. Please help.”
On most trips to Target, I must admit that I don’t really bother to notice these beggars. I need to make a left turn out of the parking lot, be aware of any oncoming traffic, and normally there would be a line of cars waiting for me to exit. But this day was different. There were no cars behind me and the weather had suddenly turned from sunny to cloudy and windy. Looking at this woman shivering in the cold instantly sparked my curiosity.
After rolling down my window, I asked her, “Where do you sleep?”
She stood up and came to my window. “I sleep in the parking lot in the back of Target in my car,” she said.
“They let you do that?” I asked.
“Yeah, they haven’t said anything so far,” she replied.
There still weren’t any cars waiting behind me, so I put the car in park. I looked through my wallet and saw two twenty dollar bills and a one dollar bill. I quickly took the one dollar bill and some loose change in my car, grabbed a unopened bottle of water, and gave the money and water to her. She kindly accepted.
“Well, I don’t have any other small bills, so I hope this helps a little bit. If I ever see you around here again, I’ll try to give you something more,” I told her.
“Ok. Thanks for the water! Happy Holidays!” she replied.
“Happy Holidays!” I said.
I put the car into drive again and got ready to pull away to make my left turn. As I pulled away, I saw her return to her plastic seat and immediately drink the water.
I had a car full of everything I could have ever wanted, and she was just making it, hand-to-mouth and day-to-day. The best I could do for her was some loose change and some water. With those thoughts racing through my head, I stopped the car again, rolled down my window, and said, “Excuse me, ma’am.”
She looked back and walked up to my window as I waved her over. I reached into my wallet, took one of the twenty dollar bills out, scrunched it up, and handed it to her.
“I hope this helps,” I said.
She took the money and noticed it was a twenty dollar bill. While staring at me with her deep, blue eyes, she asked me, “Are you serious?”
“Yeah. Get something to eat or whatever you need. I hope it helps a bit,” I answered.
She immediately burst into tears. “It does. Thank you!” she said.
I smiled, gave her a thumbs up, rolled up my window, and made my left turn out of the Target parking lot.
Giving away twenty dollars to a homeless woman, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a huge burden for me. However, twenty dollars for that woman meant a lot, not only for the monetary value, but also for the gesture of someone actually caring for her and valuing her well-being.
Since that chance encounter with that woman at Target, I have become more intentional about giving my money, resources, time, and energy wherever and whenever I can. I tip the Latino sandwich artist at Subway, I give an old warm coat and a bag of food to the old Filipino man who is homeless and begging for help outside my local supermarket, and I offer my time and energy when I can to my family and friends.
Will you live your life in abundance or scarcity?
Choose abundance, give freely, live in plentifulness, and your life will be fuller and richer than you could have ever imagined it to be.