taking the words of Jesus seriously


I recently started thinking about doing some spring-cleaning. Hoping that might give me something to do other than worry about Donald Trump.


Which led me to the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō? In it, she says the real secret to cleaning out your excess is looking at all your stuff, item by item, holding each sock and pot and pan and tube of topical ointment and asking:


“Does this spark joy?”


It sounded a little ridiculous, when I first read it, but it also made me kind of want to try it.


Because here’s the thing: I have too much stuff. In my house. On my shelves, in my cabinets, in my closets. And, frankly also, in my life. I have too much to do. Too much I have to do, need to do, want to do. Not to mention, too much fear. And too much shame.


And at the same time…yeah, this is where it really gets crazy…I walk around feeling like I don’t have enough.  Not enough time, enough sleep, enough attention, enough money.


I am also so aware of all the ways that I’m not enough, how I don’t have the most smarts, the greatest talent, the deepest spirituality…a respectable number of Twitter followers. The list could go on. And if I forget any of that for a minute, all I have to do is open Facebook. And it all comes back to me. Quickly.


Evidently I’m not alone in this. The author and social scientist Brené Brown, for one, has written a lot about this “culture of scarcity, ” we all feel like we’re living in. In her book, Daring Greatly she says:


“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress.”


Which brought me right back to The Donald. Because, at its core, isn’t that the platform Donald Trump is running on: our national fear of not having enough? He’s the poster child for what, in our heart of hearts, too many of us feel we should do – hold on to whatever we’ve got, and do everything we can to protect it. As he warned in one of his books:


“We all have friends that want everything we have. They want our money, our business, house, car, wife and dog. Those are our friends. Our enemies are even worse! You have to protect yourself in life.”


This all made me think of the story of the feeding of the 5, 000. Remember that one, from Mark 6:30-44? All these people had gathered to hear Jesus and it got to be dinnertime and the disciples went to Jesus and said, everyone’s getting a little hungry and crabby but we don’t have enough to feed them. And Jesus said, Really? Are you sure? 


The way I was told this story growing up was that Jesus said a prayer and something supernatural happened. The few loaves and fishes they’d managed to scrounge up multiplied like magic.


However, when I was in college I heard a minister interpret what went on that day in a different way, a way that actually seemed even more miraculous to me. He said, perhaps what happened on that hillside was that when the disciples offered what they had, all the people there started pulling out what they had, too, the secret food they’d hidden in backpacks and stashed in purses, to take care of themselves, to make sure they didn’t go hungry, to make sure they had enough…and they started sharing… and when they did, it was enough for all. In fact they had extra…12 baskets of more than enough.


Whatever you believe happened that day, it seems like the culture of scarcity was definitively turned on its head. Because Jesus proclaimed in word and deed that when you trust, when you risk, when you’re willing to be vulnerable, there is enough to go around. 


That’s the upside down world Jesus came to usher in. That’s the vision of God Jesus came to show us.

The God who makes sure there is enough.


Enough love. Enough mercy. Even enough food and enough security, and enough room for differences.  And maybe the real miracle is being able to see that.


To live in radical enough-ness. 

Because if we really believed we had enough, we might not need so much. We might realize how much we can let go of.


Lent, they say, is a call to do some spring-cleaning of your soul.  A time to say, with the Psalmist,  Create in me a clean heart, O God. In the measure of your abundant mercy, clear the crap from my life.


OK, I’m paraphrasing a bit, on that last part.


Maybe the place to begin that soul cleaning is by taking a look at what we might be holding onto a little too tightly. Whether that’s our fear or our jobs or our money or our desire to matter, or our need to be right, or our feeling of superiority, or our walls, or our time, or our chocolate, or our hurts, and then, asking Marie Kondo’s question:


Does this bring me joy?


And maybe we ask a couple questions I imagine Jesus would add as well, like:


Does this bring more love and hope and mercy to me, and to the world?

Does it help this feel like a place where there’s enough to go around? 


I have to admit, living in radical enough-ness is not something that comes easily to me. I’m with David Foster Wallace who once said, “Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.”


So, I don’t think it’s by accident that during the last week of his life, which we now call Holy Week, Jesus suggested that his 12 disciples, and all of us, remember him by sharing bread and cup with each other. He knew that this simple human act would be the best way to recognize him, to see what God is really like.


Because in essence, communion is an act of defiance in the face of the prevailing powers of the gods of scarcity.


And when we participate in the ritual of the Lord’s Supper, if we’re lucky, if we’re blessed, if we really open our eyes, we can, just like those 5000 people on the hill that day, know in the breaking of the bread, that there is hope for our hunger, for all our hungers, and in the sharing of the cup, see that there is a love that can fill our empty places, our feelings of not having enough, and not being enough.


Because we follow the God of radical enough-ness. Who makes sure there is enough. For all of us. For the whole wide hungry world.


And, yes, Donald, even more than enough.


About The Author


Lenora blogs with honesty, humor and even, occasionally, a little wisdom, about trying to be more spiritual when you basically suck at it, on her Chicago-Tribune-hosted blog, Spiritual Suckitude. A regular contributor on RedLetterChristians.org, she also co-directs The Plural Guild with her husband Gary, a collective crafting music, visual art & liturgy for people who want to do justice, love mercy, and worship in new ways that welcome all. Because she rarely sleeps, she also writes lyrics for the band The Many, works a very full time job as creative director in a big Chicago ad agency, and helps with communications for the Wild Goose Festival. Her two 20-something daughters allow her to be friends with them on Facebook, as long as she doesn’t comment. She loves Jesus, chocolate and shoes. Though, unfortunately, not always in that order.

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