The past few years, I have chosen a word for the year, something I pray about that I need to focus on for the 365 days ahead. Last year, my word came to me actually before the end of the year, but this year was a little harder. I had an idea for a word that popped into my head, but the word didn’t feel right. I felt that if I used that word, people would get the wrong idea about what it meant and the motives, so I held off on sharing and kept praying for something else.
The first day of the year, I sat down and really prayed about it, then went on with my devotion. I also had a monthly letter from a ministry that we give to, and I like to sit and read it during my quiet time after it comes in the mail. To my surprise, the letter for this month mentions my exact word and the Bible verse that goes along with it. I thought it was a little odd, or interesting I guess, but moved on. Then I opened my daily devotional I read, and I couldn’t believe it, but that days devotional talked about my word, the same as the letter. I literally laughed out loud. Ok God, you win. This will be my word.
A very large quantity of something.
I want to be clear before I get going here that the focus of this word for 2022 is not “Heather wants to be rich.” I feel like in our society when you say the word abundance, it is 99% of the time tied to material wealth. While that would be welcomed (haha), my purpose for the word and the year has a much deeper meaning.
I actually have been praying for God to:
1.) Show me the abundance I already have (gratitude)
2.) Show me how I can share what I have with others (money, time, knowledge, other resources)
3.) Change my perspective on worldly success and abundance, and instead seek Him and what abundance means to Him for my life specifically
For me, this is no easy task. Living in America, living in the affluent town I live in, abundance according to the world’s standards is all around me. As someone who works with social channels, it’s in my face all day long. I can’t simply unplug and recharge, or I wouldn’t have a job. So I have to figure out a way to view things differently, through the lens of why I am on earth, what abundance means to God, and what His plan is for my life.
Like most of you, my life doesn’t look like I thought it would. In many ways it’s far more wonderful than I imagined, but in some ways, there have been some disappointments and frustrations. It can be tempting to think that you don’t have the “type” of abundance you long for because you did something wrong or failed to measure up to some standard. Shame is an emotion I don’t like to face, but it lurks in my heart, popping up at the most inopportune times.
While I have the world screaming in my ear telling me I don’t have enough of something, or if I had XYZ, THEN I would be happy, there is a quiet whisper in my heart telling me that I have never gone without, I have always had what I need, and that I am never alone. In our microwave generation, we want abundance and we want it NOW. More money, more power, more time, more love, more mercy, more of whatever someone else has that makes their life look easy. The problem is, abundance is subjective, and also, may lead to destruction.
Consider this. You want to be loved abundantly, so you hastily marry the wrong guy just so that you won’t be alone. In the end, it leads to so much heartbreak and trauma that could have been avoided if you were seeking God’s will and timing.
You want a new car so you buy one you can’t really afford the payments on. You lose your job and the car gets repossessed. If you had waited and hung onto your paid for car and been thankful for having one that you didn’t owe money on, you wouldn’t be in this situation and now you don’t have a car at all.
There are dozens of examples where thinking the grass is greener on the other side has led to destruction. You will always want what someone else has, and on the other end, there will always be someone who wants what you have. Recently I heard someone talking about how when they walk into a friend’s beautiful expensive mansion they get jealous. My jaw dropped because the person who was saying that also lives in a beautiful mansion in my opinion, and I would LOVE to have their home. It solidified the idea that you never reach the top…you will be happy for a little while but will always want more.
Abundance. Having a very large quantity of something.
To the family who doesn’t have heat this winter. We live in abundance.
To the kid who only gets to eat on weekdays when they get free lunch at school. My child lives in abundance.
To the divorced woman who is desperate for love. I live in abundance.
To the Christian in another country hiding in a cave to read their Bible. America is the land of abundance.
In 2022, I want living in abundance for me to mean a lot more gratitude and helping others, and a lot less wishing for things I want but don’t need. I say this through gritted teeth, because this one is tough for me. It’s not something my husband really struggles with, and I know certain personality types struggle with it more than others. Not everyone can relate, and that’s ok. So let’s talk about my action plan, because I believe a goal without a plan is just a wish.
1.) Gratitude journal. I do this on and off during the year, but want to be more intentional about it daily. One thing I really want to focus on for the day that I am grateful for, no matter how small. I want to keep my life in perspective.
2.) Knowledge. I think we tend to live in a bubble unaware of what is going on outside of our cozy homes and suburban neighborhoods. The more knowledge we have and research we do on people who are TRULY struggling in life, the more thankful and compassionate we become. I want to read or research something once a week to give me more knowledge and gratitude for my life.
3.) Abundance in action. It’s easy to write a check. Don’t get me wrong, money is an important part of giving and God blesses us to bless others, but that’s not the only gift we can give, and sometimes I feel it’s the easy way out to help people not feel guilty. I want to be more intentional with my time and resources whether that means volunteering more, giving things away to those in need instead of trying to sell them, or helping to spread knowledge to others about ways we can help others in our community and across the world.
4.) Teaching. Emma Kate is a very blessed little girl. We tell her all the time, but I want to be more intentional with truly helping her to see that not everyone is as fortunate as us. We have had a few conversations about this but I want to do it more, showing her photos and videos, taking her with me to help others, and letting her be a part of sharing our excess with those around us. Cleaning out toys to give away, volunteering with underprivileged kids, and teaching her about gratitude are all a good place to start.
In closing, I feel that I need to say having an abundance of something is not a bad thing. The Bible never says that. It does however warn against the love of money (you cannot serve two masters) and also speaks to what you use it for. God blesses us so that we can bless others, whether that be financially, or with a gift of teaching, or with a heart for service, or with patience to deal with certain people. Some people are blessed with an abundance of time to volunteer, or an abundance of joy to cheer others up. We all have specialties that are parts to one body, and they are all needed.
How will you use yours this year? Will you use your abundance for yourself, or to help others? I am sure I will have a lot of missteps along the way, but I want 2022 to be the year I stop focusing on myself, and instead pour into others with the abundance I have been given.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21