This thought has been nipping at my heels for awhile now. There are so many things that we think are “needs” when NEWS FLASH, they aren’t. Almost all of us in America live better than the Pharaoh’s did in ancient Egypt… let that sink in.
We think having to pass on a Starbucks means we’re paupers. Most of us have debt up the wazoo because we “needed” something. And of course I understand that there are true emergencies that can also put us in debt and in those instances, I am grateful that we can “charge it”.
I think of my Great Grandmother. She was born in 1911. She lived through the Great Depression. She worked day and night, saving every penny she could and never complained when she was exhausted with not much to show for it- that was just life. She always told me, “have a penny, save a penny.” But do I ever save a penny? Not really. I justify everything, thinking, well of course I “need” this… but do I?
My Great Grandmother worked so hard to provide for her family. She saved enough money to pay for multiple weddings and funerals in cash, as well as owned her home. She never drove, never had a license. She walked everywhere. She lived in a small little pink home with plastic all over the furniture and photographs. She preserved everything to make it last. She had a tiny stove. In fact, her whole house looked like a Barbie doll playhouse compared to what we live in today. She didn’t live beyond her means. In fact, she lived under them so that she could save for emergencies. She called it her “rainy day fund”. She didn’t have a closet overflowing with clothes or shoes and she didn’t waste anything. She, her husband and children did not go out to the movies or bowling for fun; they played cards at their small kitchen table and her kids read books from the library. My Great Grandmother even made her own card holders out of plastic food lids and a fastener in the center. She was the ultimate DIYer!
My husband’s Grandfather and Grandmother also lived in a humble home. Grandfather went to work and labored every day of the work week. Grandmother stayed home and took care of family and the house. There were no HGTV remodels. In fact, she didn’t even drive. It wasn’t because she was disempowered; it was because they were living within their means! They had one car and Grandfather took it to work. On the weekends, he would take his wife out to go peruse the town but they never got spend-happy. Grandfather and Grandmother saved all their lives and when retirement came, they decided to use ALL of their savings to build a big family home to grow old in with their only daughter and her family.
We live in that very home today. What a legacy to leave! There is so much to learn from the hardworking generations of the past. They weren’t frivolous. They didn’t have shoes to match every style and outfit and they didn’t order pizzas and buy subscriptions to Amazon Prime (guilty!) or Netflix.
I’m not saying any of this is wrong or right. What I am saying is that for me and my family, I want to go back to the basics. And it is going to be so stinking hard! I LOVE Starbucks! And Italian Restaurants! And Halo Cookie Dough ice cream! And movies! And going out on the town! And chocolate truffles! And Torrid!! And cute shoes! And ALL THE CLOTHES! And books!!! Man do I love books! The list goes on and on because I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE!! I love yum and fun! I am always drawn toward glitz and glam and I DREAM of an HGTV home (the “after” not the “before” 🙂 ).
I think of organizations like World Help, Compassion International and the D. Gary Young Foundation, all with countless ways we can help those who TRULY “have not” . I am assured by trustworthy friends that have been onsite at all of these organizations and mission fields, that these are legitimate and 100% of all donations go straight to the people in need. If we don’t feed the starving and get people out of sex slavery, who will?
How often do we think beyond ourselves? And for how long? It’s sad, isn’t it? Most of the world still doesn’t have CLEAN DRINKING WATER (that’s right- they have muddy holes filled with animal poo and disease and they GET THEIR WATER from there because there are no other options. They try to “boil” it first but there are not many resources for them to have that “luxury”).
Yet here in America, people on government assistance have access to all the food, clean water, baby supplies, healthcare, help with electric bills and yes, even cell phones. We could split hairs and talk about what we think is working and what isn’t, but the point is, there is help from our country!
Did you know that most countries do not have those resources available for its people? Babies starve to death and die of preventable diseases while we scroll Facebook. That’s hard to hear, isn’t it? I sponsor a little boy who is 7 years old in Haiti named Dawens. He sent me a letter the other day talking about his home. It is made of blocks and has a piece of metal over the top. He is one of the blessed ones who gets food and education to get himself out of poverty because he has a sponsor in America helping him. He has hope and no price could ever be put on that.
We have all changed the channel when the “bleeding heart” commercials come on, asking people to sponsor a child and they show a hungry face with a bloated belly. We tell ourselves it’s a fraud or that we just don’t have the money (while sitting on furniture in a house with a roof and a remote in our hands). We tell ourselves whatever it takes to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
I am challenging myself as much as I am challenging you. What are your true needs? And what could we put aside to help others? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that life is all about you and your family and your comfort and your fun times. It’s not.
Don’t live inside the box of delusion or denial.
There is a world out there that needs us and if we won’t help, who will?
I don’t want to be a product of the “Me” generation. I want to be a product of selflessness. I want to forfeit my comforts to help others. I want to stop convincing myself that my needs are greater than your needs. I want to discontinue the story I tell myself that I don’t have enough money to ________ (fill in the blank) and that someone else will have to help those in need because I have too much _____________ (fill in the blank) to take care of. I don’t think I could ever be Mother Teresa. But I could say “no” to a few more luxuries to save the life of one more child in need.
You will leave this world one day. And you will find out that these few years on earth were supposed to be for much more than “building your Kingdom.” What short-sighted thinking we all fall for. “Just live for today”…. “Get yours”… “It’s all about me”… “I deserve”….
Yeah, whatever. Look beyond yourself. You may find that you feel a whole lot better when you’re not stuck on yourself. I know I do. We will never do this “perfectly”. But we can make progress everyday toward helping others in whatever way we can and making someone’s day a little brighter, simply by putting ourselves aside and thinking of others.