Poverty, I’m Breaking Up With You
Poverty isn't just about how much money you have - or - don't. Poverty is a mindset that colors your thoughts and emotions about time, money, resources, relationships and possibility. When a poverty mindset rules you, fear is the driving force of decisions you make, and the expectations you have for the future.
Money - You Won't Define Me
You see, poverty is defined as lack - of anything. And that "lack" is defined by our own perspective. For example, the average monthly income in Madagascar is $33. Yes. Thirty-three dollars. At the other end of the scale, the average monthly income in Monaco is $15,507. Quite a bit of difference, wouldn't you agree. The United States is eighth on the list with an average monthly income of around $4,738. So, with that information, what are your initial thoughts and feelings about the income you earn?
Often, all we need to do is scan our social media feed to release a "less than" - dare I say, poor - mindset. As a result of the comparison, we decide we are in poverty compared to them. However, all we see is the surface of their life. Because let's be real, we don't know how much debt they have, or the state of their most intimate relationships (well maybe), or the recent doctor's report which has them in a state of panic. We aren't privy to their disappointments, or if they feel like a failure because everyone in the family is a doctor, and they only own a bakery.
What you see as a personal limitation - a lack, or failure, someone else is looking on and WISHING they had half what you do.
Perspective is Everything
And while you consider your paltry $3500 a month income to be embarrassing, ask the one-income single parent how she feels about the two jobs it requires for her to earn $2500. How do you view her? How does she view you? It's all perspective Darling.
Exodus 20:17 instructs us this way:
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
While 1 Corinthians 12:31 tells us:
"So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all."
And 1 Corinthians 13 follows with the famous discourse on love - the best gift of all. A gift which doesn't cost a thing.
Oh, My Poverty Mind!
As I mentioned, poverty is a lack of anything. So I'd love for you to consider how and why some of the vulnerable areas of your life are created by a poverty mentality. In other words, think for a moment about those areas where you are fearful, tormented or desolate.
Firstly, let's talk about food. Yes. I said food. I was raised by Great Depression-era parents. As they grew up, food was precious - not to be wasted, but to be celebrated. Enough food means you live at least another day. In contrast, think of today's US society with cheap fast food meals on almost every corner. My parents' food was acquired with labor-intensive activity - aka hard word. They either planted, raised, harvested and slaughtered their meals, or did back-breaking work to barter for a home and food. Yeah. They were those people. Dirt poor and filled with pride.
As their child, I fared better. They made sure I was cared for and never worried about a meal. Yet as a little girl, I was carried off to corn, bean and tomato fields around Amarillo. My mom canned everything she could get her hands on, and we ate it all year. I witnessed the slaughter and packaging of a pig and participated in the finger-aching work of snapping peas. Yeah. I was that girl.
My children had a bit of that, as they watched me plant gardens in our backyard, and harvest the tasty produce. Not because we couldn't afford a can of green beans, but because it tasted better and was part of my heritage.
Overeating and Mindset
But here's the thing, I was overshadowed with my parents' intrinsic fear that the food would run out. So cabinets were filled to the brim, freezers overflowed, and pennies were counted. Special foods were reserved for adults, pictures of the holiday table (sans people) were the tradition, and you better believe you didn't complain about what was set on the table. You don't like it - you don't eat. Period.
My overeating habits developed, I believe because there was this subconscious fear of food-poverty - "there might not be enough tomorrow, so I better eat it today." Extra money is often spent at the grocery store. Yeah. Like that. What about you? Do you have any of those food poverty attitudes?
The nightly news is filled with stories of domestic abuse. The workplace is peppered with accounts of maniacal managers and bully-bosses. Many remain in these personal and work relationships because of the fear of never having another intimate relationship, or because they are afraid there won't be another job.
We barricade ourselves in damaging relationships because of poverty-driven mindsets around the area of relationships. The question of "where else can I go" often locks us into toxic, even deadly, situations.
We allow ourselves to be bullied because we lack the true self-esteem to believe we deserve better. Another layer of relationship poverty shows up: our relationship with ourselves.
We battle, especially as Christian women, to assert ourselves. Ringing in our ears is the Beatitude, "blessed are the humble", completely wrecking the meaning of that scripture. It means gentle-spirited, not a doormat.
Many tolerate abusive marriages. They rationalize it because "God hates divorce". Yet we completely ignore part two of Malachi 2:16, which says that God also hates violent and cruel men.
We emotionally blackmail and grasp at our loved-ones, placing impossible, unreasonable expectations upon them. We want them to prove their love to us by their actions, while we, by our actions, drive them away. Relationship Poverty manifested.
Time, Time, Time
In the US, we live in a hurry-up-quick-get-it-done mindset. We are up early, out late, and totally disconnected from the people we love the most. We are driven (again) by our poverty mindset to work longer hours, and put our children in more activities. In between, we post every life experience on social media so our "friends" can see how great life is. We want to prove we are okay, doing well, attaining great "wealth" in all the areas of our life.
Have we forgotten that our days and years are numbered by the Lord? Is it possible we've forgotten that RESTING in God is the number one thing which the Israelite's were condemned for? (Hebrews 4). Do we ignore Jesus' words and take them for pie-in-the-sky platitudes We drive ourselves to SPEND time, rather than INVEST time to create joy and memories in the moment. And while we are driving ourselves and our children from one event to another, we are saving our best china for "someday." Poverty.
Do yourself a favor. Look over all of the activities of your life and ask, "How many of these are because we love them? Are any of these simply to look good in the eyes of other people?"
What I'm NOT Saying...
It might be easy to assume I'm saying you should quit your job, live on the government, kick cranky people to the curb and sit at home in your pajamas.
What I AM saying is that it is important to consider the motivations, the fears, and the attitudes you have about what you believe.
Do you live in an abundance state of mind or a poverty state of mind? And while I understand Proverbs 6:11 is talking about lazy people, I think we can also use it here: "poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber."
Whether in business or life, our enemy is looking for a way to devour peace from us. Fear of lack makes us run to our own resources. We find ourselves in situations we hate, simply because we were driven to make decisions. I encourage you to meditate on Luke 11:22-32. Find your peace and overflow in God. After all, Philippians 4:19 says, "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."
A Heavenly Perspective on Poverty
Jesus taught his disciples, saying, “Listen to me. Never let anxiety enter your hearts. Never worry about any of your needs, such as food or clothing. For your life is infinitely more than just food or the clothing you wear. Take the carefree birds as your example. Do you ever see them worry? They don’t grow their own food or put it in a storehouse for later. Yet God takes care of every one of them, feeding each of them from His love and goodness. Isn’t your life more precious to God than a bird? Be carefree in the care of God!
“Does worry add anything to your life? Can it add one more year, or even one day? So if worrying adds nothing, but actually subtracts from your life, why would you worry about God’s care of you?
“Think about the lilies. They grow and become beautiful, not because they work hard or strive to clothe themselves. Yet not even Solomon, wearing his kingly garments of splendor, could be compared to a field of lilies. If God can clothe the fields and meadows with grass and flowers, can’t He clothe you as well, O struggling one with so many doubts? I repeat it: Don’t let worry enter your life. Live above the anxious cares about your personal needs. People everywhere seem to worry about making a living, but your heavenly Father knows your every need and will take care of you. Each and every day He will supply your needs as you seek His kingdom passionately, above all else. So don’t ever be afraid, dearest friends! Your loving Father joyously gives you His kingdom realm with all its promises! Luke 12: 22-32 (TPT)
Break FREE From a poverty mindset
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