I’ve been reading several books lately, which won’t surprise anyone because I love to read. However, what if I were to say I’m in the middle of THREE NON-FICTION books… please sit down before you collapse. I do not enjoy non-fiction because I read to disengage and escape not to learn or have to think.
However, last year I took quite a few classes at our local college and re-realized that I really do like learning. I’ve gone to three conferences this year too… all of which put the craving for learning back in my body. So I decided to try… just try to pick up a non-fiction book… or two. To be completely honest, at least one of them is a birthday present I haven’t mailed off yet because I wanted to read it first. I’m already late so I figured I could finish it. (Heidi, I’m hurrying!!!)
We have been wrestling with the blessed state in which we live. Not because we drive the newest cars… we don’t. We have a 1998 Oldsmobile ’88 that is a hand me down from Stephen’s papaw and a 2003 Ford Windstar that we got used. Not because we live in a mansion… we live in a modest brick ranch home that we don’t own… it’s the parsonage. and the list could go on. But rather, we know we live in a blessed state because we do have cars… plural… we can drive those cars… we have a home… we have clothes… we have food… that we like!… too much!… we have tv, cable…dvd’s…a wii… books… and on and on and on.
I have almost always wrestled with what I have and the feeling of guilt that sometimes comes with knowing that I have what I have. An example… (it’s gonna take a little set up…) Each year for Christmas we would travel to Michigan and spend it with both sides of my family. We’d spend Christmas Eve with my dad’s family and Christmas Day with my mom’s. They lived in the same town which made holidays great. We normally slept at my Grandma and Grandpa Temple (dad’s parents). One particular year (I think 7th or 8th grade) my Grandma MacArthur gave me a pearl ring. It wasn’t anything huge or flashy but it was a simple, real, beautiful pearl set on a gold band. I loved it. After spending all of Christmas Day with my mom’s side we headed back for the night to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was normal for Grandma Temple to sit and ask what we got for Christmas that day and we normally ran through the list. That year I felt really guilty for having to say that I got a pearl ring because I felt like it was something they couldn’t afford to purchase for me and I didn’t want it to appear that I was ungrateful for what I did receive from them or that I was rubbing the gift into her nose. So, I omitted it when I was going through my gifts. However… I was wearing it. Duh. And she asked me about it.
Here’s the point… I’m reading this book right now…
In reading it, and the other two books, I have battled the same pit of my stomach feeling that I had that Christmas. Max Lucado quotes Bono by saying that an “accident of latitude” is what determines a person’s state of living. I can’t wiggle by nose, blink and suddenly exchange places with another mom in a third world country that is struggling to provide food, shelter, clothes, and education for her kids. It’s simply not possible. So, I do go through life feeling guilty about being blessed. No. Should I have felt guilty for saying, “I got this ring for Christmas.”
We are blessed. fact. I got a ring for Christmas. fact. Something I have wrestled with and have come to realize is, most of the time I don’t need to apologize for facts. As American Christians I don’t know that we should feel the need to apologize for our blessings.
But should we hoard them. no. Should we squander them. no. Should we flaunt them. no. Should we acknowledge from whom those blessing came. yes. most definitely. Should we pour them back out to those around us whether near or far. yes. yes. yes.
I have no answers. I have a burden. I have ideas. I have an overwhelming sense in the pit of my stomach. and this Christmas we’re going to try to leverage our blessings.
Yes, we are still getting gifts for friends and family. Some will be made. Some will be bought. But we’re trying to think through each gift and if we can leverage a gift with a global cause then we are taking advantage of that. We are making sure our kids know that we live a blessed life. We have already pack shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child and we have several other projects that will reinforce the principal of sharing our blessings to our kids.
I’m gonna just wrap this up because like I said, I do not have answers. I have questions. And I could ramble all day because I like to try and reason things out. This can’t be. The problems that surround us can’t be reasoned away. I can’t fix everything but our family can impact on one life… maybe two.