Full Capacity is Quieter Than I Expected

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Annie Rim -Quieter Full Capacity3by Annie Rim | Twitter @annie_rim

We’re in the midst of a chaotic season in our home. With two young girls, life is always running at full speed. My husband is an accountant and the weeks leading up to the April tax deadline are extra busy and stressful. The other day, I pulled out some frozen chili for dinner. While I was defrosting it I noticed it seemed a bit chunkier than normal chili but the frenetic pace of early-evening solo parenting pushed the thought to the back of my mind. When my husband, Frank, came home from work and reheated his portion he asked, “Did you add sour cream and Frito chips to the beef stew?”

It wasn’t a huge mistake, but it’s one that totally encapsulates this season of life. I am running at full capacity, often to the detriment of the details that make up the big picture. Did we have a hot meal for dinner? Yes. Big picture! Was it the meal I had planned? No.

When I claimed “capacity” as my one word for 2017, I felt pretty good about it. My word for 2016 was “enough” and I felt that this would be a good follow-up. I had spent a year calming my expectations, sitting at Jesus’ feet, channeling my inner Mary rather than my dominant Martha. But now, I was ready to fill up that space! Martha has a place in my life, too, and I was eager to be open to opportunity and live to my fullest capacity. A third of the way through this year, I’m realizing how deeply I have misunderstood both of my guiding words.

Enough isn’t a pass to sit back and let life pile up around me, knowing that I am truly enough. And capacity doesn’t mean filling my time to the brink, even if it’s full of really good things.

Recently, I was reading Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong. At the beginning she says, “The opposite of scarcity is not abundance; the opposite of scarcity is simply enough.” I grew up with the teaching that we believe in a God of abundance, not scarcity. That God is ready and willing to fill our pantries, our time, our energy, our bank accounts as long as we trust in those blessings. I was taught that God wants to give me all of my desires, but it is my own weakness and lack of faith that hold God back. I’m learning that God is indeed a God of abundance, but biblical abundance doesn’t always look like full pantries and bank accounts.

We see God’s abundance in Exodus 16, through the gift of daily manna, dropped from the heavens. God provided an abundant amount, enough to feed an entire nation wandering in the desert. But it was just enough for a day and no more. A similar thing happens in the book of Elijah, as oil and flour are provided day after day to the widow at Zarephath. But again, it’s just enough for a day.

What I had failed to see in those stories is that the Israelites ate the same food over and over again. They were given enough each day, but that abundance did not translate into variety.

Sometimes I want God’s abundance to mean that I have a variety of opportunities available to me. I want it to mean that anything I dream will become a reality and if I work hard enough and trust hard enough, then my life will look abundantly exactly the way I want it to.

The opposite of scarcity is enough.

I am learning that enough means I have enough energy at the end of the day to read One. More. Bedtime. Story. I have enough energy to use naptime to write or read or rest. God’s abundance comes in such different forms than the ones I’ve been taught to look for.

This year, as I lean into Capacity and pause to look ahead in these coming months, I’m learning that when I trust God with my gifts and talents and time, my life is filled to capacity. It’s not the stretched-thin, overbooked, busyness version of capacity that I thought it would be. Instead it’s a life filled in a way that makes space for quiet, for peace, for listening. As I learn to trust in God’s upside down kingdom, I’m learning to trust in God’s ability to turn my own words and goals upside down and so “enough” becomes abundant and “capacity” is filled with space.

________________

Annie Rim

Annie Rim lives in Colorado, where she plays with her inquisitive and independent daughters, hikes with her husband, teaches at an art museum, and grapples about life, faith, and community on her blog. You can connect with her on twitter or via her blog: annierim.wordpress.com.

 

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  • I’m working at this right now, too. It seems that we need to train our eyes to look at the given and to see it as enough. For me, this involves “unlearning” all the shabby theology you alluded to in which I submit my order to God, and He fills it like a vending machine.

    Reading and re-reading this phrase: ““enough” becomes abundant and “capacity” is filled with space.”

    • I didn’t realize how much “unlearning” I’ve had to do… And how reframing the definitions of words has helped me catch glimpses of God’s fullness.

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  • Loved reading this Annie, “The opposite of scarcity is enough”… May each day be enough. 💚

  • Gosh Annie – sorry I’m late in responding but I love this! That idea of ‘enough’ as opposed to ‘abundance’ feels so right and true. I’ve always felt a nagging discomfort when we so easily begin praying about our God of ‘abundance not scarcity’, and now I understand why. The God of manna and of daily bread is not (necessarily) about full to the brim, breakneck speed and ‘overflowing pantries’, although I guess sometimes s/he is. Sometimes daily bread looks like just that – daily bread. There is such wisdom and beauty in this piece that I will be mulling over for a long time. Thank you Annie and hope your husband and you all are able to enjoy a well-deserved break after tax season!

  • Tracy Nelson

    yes. enough …. is …. enough. well written, thank you.