Singleness and the Myth of Scarcity

The simplest concepts can be the hardest to truly grasp. In her book Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey writes about the idea of scarcity*, how the fear of not having enough can drive us to do terrible things. Scrabbling for enough for ourselves puts others down, and hurts us at the same time, even if we can’t see it.

So to say, “There isn’t scarcity. There is more than enough in Christ” seems at the same time so simple and yet so revolutionary.

But the Kingdom of God is more than enough. It is an act of faith to live with the narrative of abundance instead of the fear of scarcity. ~Out of Sorts, p. 227

Photo Credit: Flickr User jescapunk, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User jescapunk, Creative Commons

There is no scarcity.

Scarcity thinking pops up most often in my life in regards to singleness. It’s an ugly little truth that when I see engagement announcements and wedding photos on Facebook, the thought often crosses my mind that there’s one less guy who could end up with me. Which is true, of course, so in a sense there’s something valid in that thought, but it goes much deeper than one less eligible guy.

It’s about wanting to be married, but it’s also about the lie I still sometimes believe that tells me the only way to a good life, a blessed life, a life truly full of happiness and joy, is to be married.

Which it’s not, but it’s hard to not want something good even if it might not be what’s best, at least right now.

Scarcity tells me God is using up all the good lives on the married people. 

As I look at that typed out, it seems like such a ridiculous statement. Of course he’s not using up all the good lives on the married people.

It can feel that way though, because feelings aren’t always in the sense-making business. When I look around me and see the happy couples and the happy families, it is so hard to not feel like God is withholding very good things from me. Which, in turn, makes me ask serious questions about him.

Is he good? Does he care? Is he listening?

My head answer is yes, but my heart answer is sometimes no.

So lately, I’ve been reminding myself:

There is no scarcity.

God’s goodness does not depend on whether or not I get married. His love and goodness and his essential nature of being for me is not reflected in the state of my love life (or lack thereof).

There is no scarcity. Not only in this aspect of my life, but in all of them. In the real Kingdom of God, the one not based on my feelings of frustration and sadness and desire for this good thing of marriage, there is no shortage of good lives. Good lives aren’t based on things, whether relationships or money or houses or cars.

A good life in the kingdom of God is based on what he has to offer, and he will never run out of the good things. Infinite love, infinite joy, infinite peace, infinite mercy, infinite grace–there is so much more than enough of all of these, for all of time, for all people. 

Getting what I want in life, or not getting it, is not a reflection of God’s essential character. He is enough, no matter what my fleeting feelings may tell me.

With God, there is no scarcity.

Til next time…


p.s. Is there an area of life where you most often fall into scarcity thinking?

*It should be noted that Sarah references Walter Brueggemann’s work on the “liturgy of abundance” versus the “myth of scarcity.” Specifically, she mentions his book Journey to the Common Good.

Waiting on the New Thing

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about Looking for the New Things. Isaiah 43:18-19 seemed to be everywhere I looked, which wasn’t too surprising, as it’s often a favorite at the dawn of a new year. It stuck around for a couple of months, and then I stopped noticing it, but didn’t forget about it. When life went awry, which it has, is, and will continue to at various points, I went back there. I asked a talented friend to make me a nicer piece of wall art to hang in my room, and even bought a frame to make it look official.


I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

I clung to that verse like it was a life raft. In ways, I suppose it was. Is.

And I waited, and prayed, and waited. And more of the same, likely with some impatient feet-stomping to show God I meant business this time.

So much waiting. Many stories of faith could be summarized with that one word.


In the past month or so, Isaiah 43:18-19 again seems to be everywhere I look–so much so that when I read a book or blog and the writer said, “There’s a verse that means so much to me…” I’ve started expecting it to be Isaiah 43:18-19. And lately, it usually has been.

It’s made me roll my eyes and mutter under my breath “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

But it’s also forced me to notice it.

For all the waiting I have done and am doing, I don’t feel like I’ve noticed any “new things” in the way I thought I would. There’s been nothing big enough that demands me to see it and exclaim, “Yes! That’s it! The new way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert!”

A way (or a path, I imagine) or a river seems like it should be pretty noticeable. But I haven’t gotten those.

Maybe, though, the reappearance of this is A thing. Not the thing, or a major thing, but A thing.

Over and over, being I’m reminded to have hope, and to see.

As I wrote earlier this year:

I love the boldness of BeholdIt is booming, rich, inviting–see here, look, pay attention. You don’t want to miss this.

I don’t know what that “new thing” might look like, though I certainly have my list of suggestions for God–but my biggest hope is that I have the eyes to recognize the newness even if it doesn’t look like I thought it would.

This particular year is much closer to its end than its start, but this promise, this hope of new things doesn’t end simply because the year does. Sometimes the waiting time is much longer than we’d like to be, but we still have reason to hope.

Til next time…


p.s. Have you seen God doing new things? Or are you still waiting?

The Freedom of Uncertainty

As part of the launch of her new book Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey is hosting a synchroblog exploring the idea, “I used to think ______ but now I think ______.” This is my contribution to that project. You can read other entries here.

Usually, when things fall apart, there is a reason. An ugly fight, a giant shove, a shocking secret.

And sometimes, things fall apart for no foreseeable reason at all.

It’s just what they do.



Sarah Bessey’s new book Out of Sorts starts out with these words that so perfectly sum up my story of faith:

“Once upon a time, you had it all beautifully sorted out.

Then you didn’t.”

For most of my life, I thought I had faith pretty figured out. Having been raised in a Christian home and sent to Christian schools, faith was my first language. It was the way I was taught interpret the world, which, while in many ways a blessing, carries baggage of its own kind. Christianity was laced through everything I did. There was, and still is, something in it that rings inherently true to me, a knowing I can never fully describe.

That, at least, hasn’t changed.

Many other things have, though.

There was no inciting incident, no major tragedy or triumph to set me off on a path of wandering. It just…happened. And one day I realized, or perhaps finally admitted, that I had moved and no longer knew exactly where I was.

I’ve taken up residence here, though I still don’t exactly where this “here” is. It has a lot less certainty than wherever I was before. But I’ve come to a restless kind of peace with the uncertainty.

For as much as it is uncertain, it is also freeing.

Because I used to think there were far more wrong ways to follow Jesus than there were right ways, and now I’m not sure I, or any other humans, have quite so much say in that kind of “wrong or right” as we often think we do.

I used to think doubt meant I was failing at my faith, and now I think doubt can be good. It’s a sign I have something at stake, something worth wrestling with, something I’m not ready to give up even when there is more that doesn’t make sense to me than does make sense. Doubt means I’m still thinking, still engaging.

I used to think reading the Bible and praying and going to church earned me credit of some kind. They’re important for spiritual growth and community, certainly, but salvation doesn’t depend upon them. My faith does not cease to exist when I fail to read my Bible or pray consistently.

I used to think God likes me more than he likes other people, and I’m still working on losing this idea. He doesn’t like me more because I go to church or because I don’t do certain things. Following Jesus is not a race—there are no winners and losers, no competition to beat. Grace is wide, and long, and deep.

I used to think feeling distant from God was all my fault and was always a result of major sin or failing. It might be sometimes, but now I think there are seasons of faith, and they change sometimes regardless of what we do or don’t do. True faith exists beyond feelings and in spite of a lack of them.

I still believe in right and wrong, that there are ways we are to follow Jesus and ways we think look like following him but are actually the opposite.  The edges of what I hold to be absolutely true have blurred though, more so already than I ever thought they would, and I’m learning to hold those absolutes less tightly. “Different” is not as scary as I once thought it to be. There is deep value in exploring ideas we disagree with, even if ultimately we end up in the exact same place we started. At least we stretched ourselves, learned to see things from different angles. As Sarah puts it, “If our theology doesn’t shift and change over our lifetimes, then I have to wonder if we’re paying attention.”

Because life, I am certain, has more questions in store for me yet. It’s both a wonder and a terror that I will never be truly done sorting through faith, will never truly arrive. So these words, from the oh-so-beautiful Benediction of Out of Sorts, are one ones I will cling to, return to, and take as my own.

“I pray you would be an explorer, you would recover delight and wonder and curiosity about your faith, about God, and about the story with which you continue to wrestle.”

I’m never going to have this faith thing all figured out. But I will keep showing up, because I believe that God is bigger than my wrestling and wandering.

Til next time…


p.s. How has your understanding of faith changed?

Sitting Well

Mostly, I want things quickly. When I get home from work, I’m not thinking about what I can eat that’s perfectly nutritionally balanced and hopefully tasty as well—oh no. I want some dino nuggets I can throw in the microwave and be eating two minutes later.

Waiting is not my forte.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Luca Serazzi, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Luca Serazzi, Creative Commons

Lately, my life has felt a bit off-kilter. Not in major ways, but in small ones, and in areas I did not expect to feel this way.

This is not my favorite way to feel.

I’d like to make it go away.

Our world is mostly conditioned to fix things, too.

This is good, in a sense—if there’s blood, it likely needs a Band-Aid or perhaps something more serious.

But bruises don’t need Band-Aids. Bruises need time, and that is the hardest thing to give them. It’s why I eat instead of pray, it’s partly why I fill my schedule so full, it’s why I watch TV rather than sit in silence.

Who knows what might happen in the silence?


So I do not want to sit here, in the place where things feel off.

I want to hurry, rush, fix.

Overwhelmingly though, I’m getting the sense God may not have a quick fix in mind. His timing is so different than mine, can be so frustrating and hard to understand. If things feel off, I want them righted, right now.

Except what if I will learn in this off-kilter time can’t be learned any other way?

It’s not an entirely pleasant thought. It might be a true one though.


It feels like God is inviting me to sit.


At church on Sunday, despite a fairly full worship space, I ended up with two empty chairs on either side of me and three empty chairs right in front of me. A wave of loneliness washed over me. I know enough people at my church–I likely could’ve found someone to invite to sit by me, or I could have gone and sat somewhere else, by someone I know. It was what I wanted to do.

But it felt like an oddly fitting scenario to be in. As much as I wanted to rush to make things more the way I wanted them, it occurred to me that maybe God has me right where I am, both in that seat on Sunday and in life right now, for a reason I cannot see.

Maybe that reason is simply, frustratingly, learning to wait.

Or maybe it’s something bigger I’ve yet to see.

Whatever the case may be, I’m trying to sit well.

Til next time…


p.s. Do you ever feel like God has asked you to sit for a while?

Of Singleness, Again

I feel like I’ve written about many of the difficulties and complicated feelings I have with being single.

But the problem is, writing about it doesn’t make it stop.

Seasons change, both physically and metaphorically, but just because I’ve been in this particular Season of Singleness before doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Snow makes roads slippery every year–experiencing it before doesn’t make it any less dangerous or annoying or scary.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Wonderlane, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Wonderlane, Creative Commons

So most of the words I’d say about singleness today are words I’ve said before.

It’s frustrating.

It can be lonely.

The fight feels disheartening and never-ending.

And I’ve been here before.

Each time I’m here though, the landscape changes slightly. It’s the same feelings, but brought up because of different circumstances or felt in different ways.

I’m no stranger to this restless agitation, this feeling that, while I know a significant other wouldn’t right all that’s wrong in the world, it would at least give me someone to face it with. I know I’m complete without a significant other, I don’t need one to glorify God and to live a good life, but I’m pretty sure I’d like one.

At the core of this feeling, it’s something I think we all feel in one way or another: I want something, something good, that I do not yet have and don’t know if I ever will. The particularities look different for each person, each situation, but the ache that sits at the heart of it–I think we’re all acquainted with that. Sometimes the pain is dull, hardly noticeable, like a bruise that only throbs when it’s brushed. Other times, the pain is acute, forceful, demanding to be noticed and tended to. These moments arise uninvited, often unforeseen, but cannot be simply pushed down. They must be noticed, wrestled with, given time to pass.

Because I do know this too shall pass. The blessing of seasons is that they always change. But winter can still feel a little bleak, even when it’s come before.

Til next time…


p.s. Do you have things you’ve wrestled with before but that keep coming back?

I Didn’t Ask to Be Human

Being human can be so frustrating–in big ways, certainly, when bodies don’t work like they should or relationships are fractured or big plans fall flat–but in a thousand tiny small ways, too. The little, everyday messes that pile up until suddenly, I’m about to snap.

Photo credit: Flickr User Macro-roni, Creative Commons

Photo credit: Flickr User Macro-roni, Creative Commons

And it occurs to me: I didn’t ask for this.

None of us did.

We didn’t have any say in whether we wanted to be born, to come into this world with all its heartache and storms and irritations.

Yet, here we are. Moving through our days in all their chaos and joys, the dark mixed with the light.

My initial reaction to when I feel like I just. can’t. anymore. is to run away. To remove myself from the situation, set it aside, avoid it until maybe I have the strength to deal. Hibernation has often seemed like an appealing concept. This says something about who I am and how I’m wired, I imagine, though I’m not sure of what, exactly.

Sometimes it’s possible to escape, and arguably even healthy. But I can’t protect myself from all the frustrations of life. Even if I could, it would be unwise, for as much as I don’t want to be, I’m learning here.

We’re all just learning to be human the best that we can, really.

Figuring out how to navigate through a life we didn’t ask to live, but have been given anyway, and now have to–get to–choose what we do with. Escaping from my irritations is an appealing option, but someday there will come a time when I’m faced with a similar situation with no escape possible. How will I know how to handle it, and that I can handle it, if I avoid it now?

So instead, I have to choose to actively engage with all those frustrating bits about being human that I’d rather avoid. I didn’t ask to be human, but I can try to do it well anyway.

Til next time…


p.s. What frustrates you about being human?

#WeWelcomeRefugees: The Syrian Refugee Crisis and Why I’m Not Staying Silent This Time

I don’t write about current events much, if at all. By the time I’ve read enough to be informed and develop coherent thoughts on the matter, almost everyone else on the Internet has already weighed in, often articulating my points but in much more eloquent ways. As I’ve written before, I’ve determined that, for me personally, I’d prefer not to engage in conversations about contentious issues online–not because they don’t matter, or because I don’t have thoughts and opinions, but because it’s so easy to forget the human behind the words.

The Syrian refugee crisis is different though.

Photo Credit: Flick User Tigr, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flick User Tigr, Creative Commons

There is much I don’t understand about it–how it started, why it’s all of a sudden become much worse (or, at the very least, only now started getting massive amounts of attention), what all the complex political and logistical matters are–but I can understand that people are in need. People are homeless and countryless, fleeing with only the essential belongings and the hope they’ll find something better. They are undertaking dangerous journeys with no guarantee of where they may end up. And some of them are, quite literally, dying trying.

I have tried to put myself in their shoes, and I can’t even begin to fathom it. What would I take with me? Would I have the financial resources and official papers to go? How would it feel to stand in line, hoping authorities would let me on a train, and hoping that when–or if–I reached my destination they’d let me in?

What would it be like to have to start my life over in a place I didn’t really want to be, with only what I had taken with me, without many of the people I love?

From my place of privilege, these are questions I’ve never even thought of, and certainly have never been anywhere close to having to face the answers.

For millions of people though, this is their reality.

Unlike many news stories, I don’t think there’s any controversy over the fact that people need help. While the issue is massive and complicated and messy, there are things I can do. These are the 3 small actions I’m taking to begin getting involved:

  • Donate. There are many organizations helping refugees (and some scams as well, I’m sure), and while it doesn’t feel like much to click a few buttons to donate some money, that money translates into real, physical resources to meet the needs of real people. I chose World Relief.
  • Listen. It’s so easy for me to change the radio station or click on a different article when the refugee crisis comes up, but I don’t want to avoid the sad stories anymore. Some of them are hard to hear, but they are true and they matter. I wish no one knew who Aylan Kurdi was, not because he doesn’t matter, but because he matters so much; no one’s son should go viral because of his tragic, untimely death. His life matters, as do the lives of all the other refugees. So I’ll read the stories, of the beautiful moments as well as the tragic.
  • Speak up. This post is one way of doing that, and urging the government to do more is another. Using hashtags to spread the message of #WeWelcomeRefugees feels small, and if that’s all we do it’s true that it’s not much, but it can be a part of something larger. Several organizations have come together to start, which will be updated regularly with more ways to get involved.

In many ways these action steps still feel insignificant. I’m not physically handing people food and water, I don’t have the means to house refugees coming to the US, and I’m not involved in government to make large, sweeping changes.

But this is something. And small steps can create big movements.

Til next time…


p.s. How are you getting involved?

The Real Way to Create Community (From the YALT Blog)

I’m a monthly contributor for the blog of the Young Adult Leadership Taskforce (YALT), which is a ministry of the denomination I’ve grown up in and still consider myself, though perhaps somewhat loosely, a part of. Lately I’ve been thinking about church again–why I go, what the purpose is, how participants in a church go about enfolding everyone into the life of the church–so today, I’m writing at YALT about community.

The Real Way to Create Community

Evoking images of shared meals and laughing people, community is a popular word in Christian circles. While not the sole intent of a church, creating a sense of community among their members is a mission most churches value, because strong Christian 2015-07-22 20.49.48-1community is certainly good, and even biblical. The how to create community is where things get complicated though. Countless books and blogs posts have been written, all offering various tactics and strategies, but I think the real way to create community cannot be distilled into an easy formula.

I think the way to create community is to embrace the awkward.

Keep reading at the YALT blog.

Inside Out and the Permission to Feel

Recently I saw the movie Inside Out, which features 11-year-old Riley (and her family) as they move across the country. Her personified emotions, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger navigate Riley through her days, but everything goes awry soon after the move–leaving Riley irritable and wishing to return to a time when life seemed to make sense.

For many reasons, it is a wonderful film–entertaining, clever, and more moving than I even anticipated. Weaved in among all the other positive qualities, I also found it strangely freeing. 

2015-07-29 21.44.39

Feelings and emotions are tricky things. It can be hard to show them at times, hard to know if it’s safe, if it’s wise, if it’s acceptable to be vulnerable enough with people to show them how we’re really feeling. At its core, one of the most important messages of Inside Out is that feelings are okay. Big feelings even, the startling kind that make us take a step back and try to figure out where they’re even coming from.

Riley moved across the country, and I moved a few mere miles, but having feelings about moving is not bad or something to be ashamed of. Moving is a change, and changes can make us feel happy or scared or excited or mad or any combination of any or all of those, plus about a bazillion other emotions–but we don’t need to be afraid of them.

Keeping feelings in indefinitely, trying to pretend they don’t exist, helps no one.

Admittedly, I probably have a few more feelings than the average person, but I’m beginning to be more okay with that. It’s part of how I interpret and process the world around me.

Granted, there are different ways of expressing feelings–some good and healthy, and others are destructive and unhelpful. Learning to express our emotions, in the right ways and in the right spaces and to the right people, is incredibly important. Inside Out was a poignant reminder of the necessity of acknowledging our feelings and working through them, instead of ignoring or running away from them. It’s not easy, simple work, because emotions are complex and shifty things–but it is good and needed work.

Maybe Inside Out will free others to feel their feelings too. 

Til next time…


p.s. What are healthy ways you’ve found to express your emotions?

A Change of Faith

Some people are thrown into Strange Spaces of faith because of a major crisis, perhaps an illness or a death, or maybe some large question that has barged into their life and refuses to go away. These, I understand, can absolutely see why they send people into a tailspin of doubt and anger and questioning.

I have no excuse for my entry into a strange faith space, no major tragedy or question begging to be answered before I can move on to somewhere new.

Whatever the reason though, I’m beginning to think it’s needed. Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I wonder too if the unexamined faith is not worth having.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Ella's Dad, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Ella’s Dad, Creative Commons

It feels as though I have been taking my faith and examining it from every angle, holding it up to see each side and nuance. Not so that I can ultimately set it down and walk away, but so that I can come to know and embrace it more fully.

There are big questions to ask, of why I hold this faith and what it means for how I order my everyday life, how I approach the world and all the complexities that come with simply being human. There are questions of how I read the Bible, what place I give it in my life, what Christian community means and what it looks like on a very practical level. How do I make decisions, big or small? How do I treat people, and is it reflective of what I believe about the love of Christ? How do I answer the big questions of why we exist and what the purpose of life is?

So many people have attempted to answer these questions and will continue to do so, and I can’t help thinking that no one has or ever will get all of these faith matters completely right. Which is a jarring thought, given what I had subconsciously believed for much of my faith life. Because what if there is no one perfectly correct way to follow Jesus?

I’m becoming more okay with that thought, what it looks like for other people’s lives as well as my own. There are core pieces I haven’t given up, nor do I think I’ll ever. But even those must be revisited, reexamined, if only to reaffirm where I stand. So much though, more than I would once have ever thought, I’m learning to hold loosely. Different really can be okay.

A reshaping of faith is not an entirely enjoyable process. It can be uncomfortable, convicting, and confusing.  Examining often comes with reshaping, discovering pieces may not fit at all anymore or may fit in a different way. Yet, despite my issues with prayer and the Bible, my questions of the practicalities of how to follow Jesus (and what does that phrase even really mean?), I have never seriously considered completely walking away from my faith.

For all the confusion it sometimes causes me, there is something to this Christian story, something to this God and this Jesus, that keep pulling me back. To grace, to mercy, to forgiveness, to a love so big I will never understand even a fraction of it.

There is no other story I would rather wrestle with.

Til next time…