Author: Nicole Speer
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. ~1 John 4:18
People who were with the church at the start of the year will remember the Epiphany gifts from the Stewardship Committee. Being on the Stewardship Committee, I had some insight into what would be arriving and I was most eagerly awaiting the arrival of the star word. I was certain my star word would give me some guidance for the year ahead. As soon as the bags arrived, I eagerly opened my bag to hunt for my star.
When I found it, I took a breath, turned it over, and read plenty.
My heart sank. After 10 months of living through a pandemic, social upheaval, a reckoning with white America’s deep history of racism, a growing climate crisis, and an attempted autocratic takeover, I was expecting a word that would give me a bit more insight than plenty.
I already knew we had plenty. We still had our jobs. We had a home. We had food. We had friends. We had most of our health. Why plenty? I put the star word on our bulletin board and thought perhaps it would make sense as the year went on.
A couple of weeks ago I was reading Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, a brilliant sociologist and professor who writes about power structures from a Black feminist perspective. In the opening essay of the book Dr. Cottom wrote about her experiences growing up as a Black girl in the U.S. and never fitting in to our country’s white majority culture: “Being too much of one thing and not enough of another had been a recurring theme in my life…Thick where I should have been thin, more when I should have been less… It may seem to privileged people that it is easier to fix me than it is to fix the world. I live to disabuse people of that notion.”
What struck me most about her writing was her radical self-love. She refused to see herself as anything less than perfect. As I read this passage, I was reminded of the distinction a friend had given me a few weeks before, between enough and plenty. In that moment, with my star word flashing through my head, I saw that I had spent a lifetime and so much energy trying to be enough without ever embracing the idea that I am plenty.
I have been reflecting on this concept of plenty for weeks now and seeing myself as plenty has helped me lean into God’s abundant love and recognize that my faith compels me to actively defy the world that tells me I am not enough. We give up the transformative power of God’s love when we let our fears of insufficiency and scarcity inhibit our ability to be the body of Christ in this world.
Imagine what we could achieve if all of us who have always been told we are not enough redirected the energy we spend trying to fix ourselves to fixing the world that tells us we are not enough! To quote Captain Marvel, one of my favorite superheroes, “I’ve been fighting with one arm tied behind my back. What happens when I’m finally set free?”
God of Abundance, ground us in your perfect and plentiful love, so that we may be fearless in our work for You. Amen.