Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.
I came back from a trip to the US last month. I found the disparity between an environment of abundance (the US) and an environment of scarcity (the Philippines).
In the US, it was unsettling for me to see so many overweight people. An African missionary in the US told my brother how he was appalled at how anybody can ever have problems from over-eating.
Seeing so much food and overweight people takes some getting used to when you come from the Philippines where we see many hungry children everyday.
Within one week of my arrival in the Philippines, we had an office activity with some school children. We fetched 20 elementary students ages 6-8 years old. We brought them to the nearby McDonald’s branch for a few hours of fun, games, prizes and a McDo meal of rice and chicken.
During the activity, repeatedly I saw how Filipino children are inadvertently taught (and thus manifest) behaviors of scarcity.
Do you remember playing the game “trip to Jerusalem” when we were kids? Fun game, is it? Maybe.
But with my awareness of my own abundance/scarcity mentalities, I saw this game in a completely different light. I saw how this game was a game of scarcity.
Imagine 20 kids and 19 seats. Isn’t that cruel? Having kids jostle each other to get hold of a seat. And knowing that in the end, only one child will have the final seat. I’m sure there are more positive team, or personal excellence games that do not require one child to have to outdo the other.
During our meal I helped out some of the kids with their chicken, slicing and dicing it for them. Midway into dicing the chicken of one kid, I realized he didn’t have anymore rice. He had eaten all his rice with just one-fourth of the chicken. He was going to bring home the rest of the chicken. … which by now was diced by Kuya Edwin! Oops, sorry!
The kids had a lot of fun climbing and sliding at the playland. I had a lot of fun watching them and taking photos. Beautiful smiles they had. For most of them, it was their first time to experience such a playground. When you’ve had so little in life, opportunities to play in a clean playground are priceless!
When it was almost time to go, we distributed goody bags for the kids containing notebooks, pencils and other school supplies. There was also a bag of pastries.
The kids were delighted to be told they would get all of these goodies. They all started to jostle to get to the front of the line.
I could imagine what was going on in their minds. “Is this another case of 20 kids and 19 gift bags?”
Very distinctly, I heard adults telling the kids “Hwag magtulakan, lahat makaka-kuha. Hwag makipag-unahan, lahat meron.”
I was watching these kids and I knew… these kids have acquired a mentality of scarcity.
I too still have mentalities of scarcity. I call my attention as soon as I catch myself thinking scarce.
Today I was about to serve a carpenter a glass of water. The pitcher was half full (or half empty, depending on how you look at it). As I was walking to the carpenter, I realized that with a half full pitcher in my hand, it looked like I was allowing him to drink only half a pitcher of water.
Quickly I went back and filled the pitcher with water.
With that, I recalled my retreat at Days with the Lord back in 1991. In every meal, we had glasses of water always filled to the brim. Always. As soon as we took a sip and put down our glass, somebody would immediately fill it up again.
It was a symbolic reminder of unlimited, boundless love from our Creator.
And this love, my friends, is ever abundant in every country be it in the US, in Africa or in the Philippines.
I know the Philippines indeed has less material resources than the US. So how can we teach our kids abundance?
Well, there are so many more things that are ever abundant in life, even for a family earning just a small amount each month!
Here’s a short list of wealth that we can choose to be abundant with. Even without money, we can choose to be abundant with the list below and show our children that indeed this world is abundant:
- sunshine (lots of it!)
- blue skies
- kind words
- quality time
- have I said love? :-)
Let’s show our kids that Life is Abundant and Life is Beautiful!