Several weeks ago a woman looking to move to my city with her young girls while she goes to school emailed my church looking for a host family. She’s only here temporarily and wanted to be connected with Christian friends and have someone to watch her youngest during the day while she is at school.
The announcement was made to over 200 women at our Bible study so over 200 families were represented there. Surely one of them had an extra room in their home and the ability to stay home and watch a young child. Since this particular study is during the day it makes sense that almost everyone there was either retired, a stay at home mom/wife or worked from home (like myself.) There must be someone who could do it.
No one said they would help. NO ONE.
Why am I so frustrated about it?
Reason #1 I am frustrated: Because I think it very clearly points out the problems we have as a society.
All over the world families share spaces. But here we tend to be very selfish. Everyone here’s got these honkin’ huge homes and they keep it all to themselves. Everyone “needs” their own home with their own room chock full of their own VAT of stuff. Everyone “needs” a cellphone. Everyone “needs” their own car. Everyone “needs” electricity 24 hours a day. These “needs”… *shakes head*
Now, I do happen to know many people who don’t fit this selfish description. In fact I think it’s due to these people that I’m so frustrated right now. Two of them emailed me just this morning. These people are good, close friends that I love dearly and they do EVERYTHING.
One family is in southern Asia right now pouring their heart and souls into young adults. Some of the young adults they’re trying to help are being married off (read “sold off”) at 16. Many of them have nothing and don’t know how to script their newly adult lives. This family I know welcomes ANYONE into their home (including my family a few times) and doesn’t think of their own “needs” except to implore to their Father in heaven for support. (Seriously, when we went to visit it was like pulling teeth to find out what we could bring for them. They don’t want and realize they don’t need anything stuff-wise.)
The other couple that emailed this morning is currently in Central-Eastern Africa pouring all of their earthly resources (including their own health) into the street children there. They bandage feet broken by a lack of shoes and souls broken by desperate situations. They often don’t have electricity and live in such extreme heat that no one here would think it livable to not have the air-conditioning running 24/7. They too never consider using their talents and abilities to land them a nice kooshy job to buy a nice house here with tasty water out of the tap. Instead they email us asking us how our family is doing (even including the dog!) and to thank us for a tiny service I was able to do for them. Seriously. You can’t get any more opposite of selfish with these folks.
I LOVE these people. So many people here LOVE these people and it breaks our hearts that they are so far away and yet they can’t do anything but continue to follow where God has led them and help others. They have so little themselves and then they share it with everyone around them. They don’t just say “yes” once in awhile. It’s their way of life to say “yes” all the time.
Even without the Christian call to help others, many millions of people find themselves sharing their resources, even if just out of necessity. It doesn’t hurt to live without everything you think you “need.” Why do we think we can’t share?
Reason #2 I am frustrated: Because we are missing out!
Don’t think that my friends are really just suffering. There are many benefits.
Can you imagine all of the adventure they are experiencing?! Nothing get’s the adrenaline running like turning the corner to find a pack of wild dogs (I know, I’ve done it!) No need to book a trip to Spain to run with the bulls. And no need to watch those reality shows. Just walk into any restaurant and point to a random menu item and you’ve got yourself a challenge! Anytime you allow yourself to be put out of your comfort zone you’ve got yourself an adventure!
Can you imagine all of the things they are learning?! The problems you face give you an extraordinarily effective crash course in life. The best way to learn is hands-on. The day I was left alone in a pizzeria was the quickest I had ever learned a new job! And there is SO much to learn out there in the world.
Can you imagine how much they are growing and developing as people to have these experiences?! You’ve got to know that adversity builds character. Heck, it’s in the Bible! Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Just think of the character of the people who are the most generous are. Are you thinking kind? Happy? Loving? I know that many of them I know are real characters… if you catch my drift. Ah, they’re great. Characters with character.
Can you imagine the friends/support system they have? Everyone loves them because everyone is drawn to unselfish people. The more you don’t seek it (whatever it is), the more it finds you. I know that the most unselfish people I know are the ones I would most likely give my eyeballs to at the first hint that they need glasses. The more you give without expecting anything in return, the more you will be given. I may have not given away my eyeballs yet but I’ve done things like hauled Dr. Pepper to the other end of the earth and I’ve torn through my own closets looking for anything I could give that could be used.
You know what I mean. I’m not just tooting my own horn here. Think about the most unselfish person you know. Now picture them on the other side of a parking lot from you and picture them dropping something while they carry a load. You’re picturing yourself sprinting over there to pick it up for them, aren’t you? I know you are. You want to help them and you’re almost happy for the opportunity to do so.
Can you imagine the memories that they will carry with them forever? How about a little kid’s smile when you pretend to take off your thumb or of all the weddings of young adults making lifelong commitments based on values you helped instill in them?
It’s amazing how many tears of love and joy you can cry over just the memories. I really think my joyful tears in my short life have surpassed the tears I’ve cried from pain or sorrow. Because I am willing to put myself into situation that may seem uncomfortable to others.
Who cares about comfort?! What mom says she’s rather not have her kids than have to go through the labor? What athlete would rather turn in their medals, trophies, rings, belts, etc. for a life of comfort? What doctor would prefer to go back and not study all those hours and just be a waiter? The memories of attaining that degree, status, etc. are like icing on the cake. They’re something to be proud of. Not to avoid.
These are things that we would miss out on if we say “no” to giving to others and no degree of cell phone, SUV, or nice perfectly clean guest bedroom that is only used a few times a year will ever come close to filling the gap.
Reason #3 I am frustrated: Because the EARTH, that’s why!
It’s like carpooling. Why, oh why, are we using more resources than we really need? A lot of times we are so incredibly inefficient. My friends don’t travel to Africa, see patients for a day and then fly back. What a waste that would be! Why would this mom need to have her own place and then shuttle her daughter to and from daycare?
With a minimalistic mindset everything you own should do double duty (at least.) Your kitchen towels double as oven mitts and your mugs work for both coffee and soup. Why not have a house that does double duty too? The gas is already keeping all that air warm, the electricity is already providing you with light, and the refrigerator is already working to chill all that space– shouldn’t someone else enjoy it too? Let’s do all we can to not be wasteful.
Reason #4 I am frustrated: Because there are even selfish reasons we’re missing out on!
My example friends above may not have a lot of selfish rewards for their adventure, but this lady is offering to pay for someone to have the privilege to have the adventure, life lessons, memories, etc. The amount she’s willing to pay would have paid my mortgage (back when we had a mortgage) more than twice over! That’s a good little side-hustle, my friends! Wanna kill some debt or build a savings? Bingo! Help and BE helped.
Or how about just having the selfish benefit of having another adult around to make dinner once in awhile? There are even selfish reasons to take up such an offer!
Why won’t anyone say yes? It’s so frustrating. I wish I could. I really do. That’s a fine adventure right there. Just laying there waiting to be picked up and lived.
Is there the possibility for disaster? Sure. (Especially if you think of disaster in first-world country terms.) But even if disaster happens you still show you can fly in the face of adversity, you still get the adventure, memories, life lessons, etc.
C’mon people! If you can all just be a smidge as awesome, inspiring, unselfish and giving as my friends I mentioned above, the world would be a much better place and YOU would be a better person for it too.
Please say YES to whatever adventure life throw your way!
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/50188265@N00/183344129″>Help</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/72309532@N08/6522362311″>Autumn</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>