Monday, October 20, 2008

I hope all of you are fortunate enough to have good friends - not just people with whom you socialize, but people with whom you share your life. I have a few of them, and Georgia's Mom is one of them.

I am sure by now I have said at least a dozen times that Georgia's Mom was my friend before I had a sister, or even before my mom remarried. We have known one another all of our lives, and have been blessed to have the rare experience of growing in similar directions. She is a UMC Minister now, and we have children about the same age. And maybe it's because our lives have overlapped so much, for so long, or maybe it's just because we're friends, but both of us always carries a little of the other's load. I cried when her first child was born, and cried when her grandfather died. When my grandmother was dying, and Georgia's Mom and I had not spoken in months, she was the only one I wanted to see. I even cried at her son's baptism (while I was in front of a crowd, no less) - and I'm not a crier. It's just the way things are with us.

So as she's been in Africa, I have thought a good bit about her experience and the things she's written. This morning I read her last post before leaving the area (and coming home to talk on the phone with me, thank goodness) just before starting my day. Now I can't stop thinking about it. In the grocery store, making lunch, feeding Silas - everything I have done today has been a reminder of how much my life is one of luxury. Walking into a grocery store and having so many options is a luxury. The ability to feed my child as many fresh fruits and vegetables as he wants (including apples in April and watermelon in December) is an inconceivable luxury in so much of the world. Watching my infant thrive and grow out of his clothes almost as fast as I can buy them, is a luxury. Having a phone nurse to call when I'm not sure what to do ... I could go on and on. My life is incredibly comfortable, and whatever complicates it are largely things I have created.

Georgia's Mom was right about something else: as a believer, knowing how much I have been given and how much others need, my only real option is to share what I have. The condo where we stayed last week had a quote displayed that has stayed with me: We can only experience a blessing in our own lives when others are blessed by it. (It was said better than that, but that was the sentiment). Until someone else benefits from what I have, I have no benefit from it, either.

So be it.


Elizabeth said...

Great post! I like the paraphrased quote about sharing blessings. I feel that way a lot. It is easy to get bogged down in our limitations because of the size of our house or our budget or whatever. But we are so blessed to live in such abundance, and I thank you for reminding me of that.

Stephanie said...

So Elizabeth (the one in Hong Kong) emailed me her response, and I'm posting it here.

I know that feeling of not being able to walk down the street without a little hand infront of my face, begging for food or money. I dont get that in Hong Kong, but I do get that here in the Philippines, I saw it in Indonesia and in Africa. Its absolutly heartbreaking. When I was in Davao, Lindsey and I were walking down the street, and there were these two little boys, they couldn't have been older than 5 or 6 years old. Completely filthy, destitute looking. They walked beside us and held out their little hands, covered in grease and dust. Lindsey looked at me, and said, "Don't give them money." I was mortified! She comes from the same church as I, and has a huge heart for the Filipino people - how could she tell me not to give this little boy money!? Then she pointed down the sidewalk a bit, to two older boys, maybe 13 or 14, holding sticks. "If you give them money, those older boys will just beat the little boys up and take their money. If you give them anything, give them food. That way, at least they can eat it before it gets taken away from them." And the heartbreak doubled. How does our world get to this point - where older boys are stealing from younger boys. Both just as hungry, both just as desperate. The older boys have learned that they are too old to beg, that people will just pass them by with a dirty look. But its hard to pass a hungry child. But it's also easy to steal from a hungry child. And in truth - that is what our country does, every time we deny aid to the war torn areas of Mindanao because of "political" reasons, everytime we retract funds from clinics in Africa like Stephanie talked about, every time we privatize the most natural resource on earth - water, every time we lay claim to another country's resources as our own (oil, rubber, diamonds, coal) - we in essense, steal from a hungry child. We are no better than those boys with sticks - only difference is - they are hungry too. We're just greedy.

aubrey said...

I have been thinking about this very thing alot lately... about living a life of luxury and taking it for granted. I remember so well the poverty and desperation I saw in Venezuela, Honduras and even in rural Alabama. I swore I would never forget it and I haven't but it doesn't impact me daily like it once did and I feel so badly...this post is a good reminder for me! Thanks!