Scarcity and Post-Traumatic Growth

April 29, 2021
 min read

Max’s eyes grew big and his arms flung in the air in frustration as he said, “But Dad, I don’t have any memories there!”

You see, my family just made a big move from Jackson, TN to Murfreesboro, and my six year old son was trying to tell me he was scared because he doesn’t know anybody. He has so many memories in Jackson, but no memories in Murfreesboro. Relationships require shared memories, and he doesn’t have any memories with friends in Murfreesboro!

I’m with Max on this one. This is the fourth time my wife and I have moved, and I’m always amazed at how hard moving is on me. Moving heightens fear and loneliness. The lack of relational roots is disorienting, and many mornings I wake up in dread of the disorientation I will feel in this new place.

One of the typical fears I have when moving is, “There won’t be enough." There won't be enough outside help with our three kids, money to meet our budget, friends to share our lives, room in our house, hours in the day to unpack, one-on-one time to share with my wife, or playtime with my kids. This “not enough” fear is steady in this moving season of life.

How often do you experience the “not enough” fear in your life?

Many writers and philosophers call this specific type of fear a scarcity mindset. Scarcity is a belief that there aren't enough resources to meet the demands of life. Simply put, a fear that there’s not enough to survive.

Most of the time scarcity mindsets fit with our child and adolescent traumatic experiences:

--There actually wasn't enough to go around financially.

--Attention, belonging, or mattering were unmet needs for extended periods of time.

--Tragedy, disease, or natural disasters pulled the curtain back on the truth that beloved people or things can be taken in an instant.

If we want to speak to reality we might say there is truth in the scarcity mindset. It is true that there is financial poverty, broken relationships, and tragic events. There is sadness, fear, and hurt with this reality, and sometimes even post-traumatic stress disorder.

While I believe the spotlight on trauma and the stress that lingers is important, there is another reality of provision and plenty that we don't talk about as much, that is, post-traumatic

Post-traumatic growth is a construct in psychology literature born out of the idea that many people come out of traumatic experiences and say they have grown (or gained) as a result of the tragedy or loss.

Struggle and pain can be our greatest teachers. For instance:

--We raised our children with more love and support because we were raised in scarcity and trauma.

--The vulnerability helped us become tougher more full of heart than we ever imagined.

--Losing the job led to a new and better opportunity.

--We experienced God in a deeper way.

Of course, these gains come out of the healing process. How do we do both? How do we honor the pain of <em>not enough in order to see what we've also gained? Sadly, there is no fast-track to growth. It comes from the struggle itself.

I am hopeful about the ways Max might struggle and grow in our move, that he'll get to miss his old house and experience the plenty in our new city, with the new friends, collecting more memories.

If you are in the struggle, you are not alone. Sage Hill is here to help.

Contact us today.

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