I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. I realized that I am so incredibly lucky, in so many ways. I have an amazing husband who loves me unconditionally, through my good days and bad. I have a mother who has never left my side and would probably give me her left arm if I asked for it. I have a father who is trying so hard to heal our broken relationship. My siblings are supportive and fabulous. My aunts and uncles and cousins are more of a rock to me than I think they know. My in-laws and my husband’s family, though miles away, are still ever-present. My best friends, even though we are separated by hundreds of miles, are just a phone call away at 3 am if I need them. I attend an amazing, God-loving, supportive church whose members never fail to surprise me with their love and generosity.
I am so lucky.
Last week, I did an assessment for a young girl whose mother is an undocumented immigrant. Even though I had to work through a translator, the pain of this mother was palpable. She had escaped severe physical, emotional, and mental abuse in her home country only to face the same here. But yet, it was her daughter she was most concerned about. As we were leaving, I asked her if there was anything she needed. In broken English, she asked me to please help me find her children some boots. I cried in my car afterward, and it’s been a long time since I did that.
I posted a simple question on Facebook: “does anyone know anywhere on the west side that offers free boots for kids?” and minutes later, I had several replies offering to buy these kids boots. People who had never even met these children. I was so shocked and humbled. When I called the mom to ask her the kids’ sizes and let her know we would be able to get boots, she got quiet. When she spoke again, her voiced cracked and she thanked me, telling me she would now be able to give her kids some gifts for Christmas.
I vaguely remember being there. I’ve never been “poor” as an adult. I’ve always been able to pay rent, buy food, pay bills, etc. However, when my mom was raising me alone, I remember being poor. I remember using paper food stamps and the WIC man delivering our Cheerios and milk and peanut butter. I always had hand-me-downs. Christmas and birthdays were days that I was spoiled with new clothes or toys.
One thing that was never short in my house was love. I cannot honestly say that there was ever a time where I felt that I was not loved by someone. And, unfortunately, there are too many people out there who don’t feel that way. So many people who feel that the world has given up on them. People who struggle to find work, food, clothes, shelter.
I think that’s one reason I went into social work. I have been given so much, so I too must give. I’ve been hearing about “finding one’s calling” – and I think I found mine. I mean, honestly, my dream job is taking puppies around to sick kids at hospitals (my mom ever-so-gently points out that they are called “volunteers”) – but for now, this type of helping will do. Bonus points for the paycheck, too.
So guys, if there is one thing that I would ask of you as we move into the holiday season, it’s this: be thankful. Be thankful for what you have, because even if you think it’s not enough, it may be more than someone else has.
I don’t think anyone could have summed up what I was trying to say here better than my friend, LeeAnn. Check out her blog post here.
I am reminded of one of my favorite parts of the Bible, The Beatitudes (Matthew 5, 3:10 NIV):
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This is a pretty good video that sums it up, too