The perfect life. That’s what I wanted. The husband, the home, the children, the white picket fence. I spent over 20 years of my adult life trying to make that “good Christian girl, American dream” a reality.
I spent very little time thinking about those less fortunate than me. After all, there was always a new goal on the horizon for something I thought I needed to make my dream complete.
I grew up in a middle class home and continued in that lifestyle as an adult. In my world, trips to the doctor, medications, teeth cleaning every six months, new eye glasses every year, chiropractic care, technology and an insured vehicle were classified as rights or needs. As I progressed up the ladder in my direct sales business, pedicures, expensive hair care, massages and assistants at home and in my work became rights and needs too. When it comes to living the dream, where there’s a will there’s a way, right? (Or there’s a credit card.)
It didn’t take too long for the memories of my college student missions year in the Marshall Islands to fade away. Over there, anything besides a dirt floor and cooking over an open fire, defined wealth.
What about those less fortunate? Social justice issues? The bum on the street was just a lazy-good-for-nothing alcoholic or drug addict. Why would I waste my hard-earned money on them when they refused to get-it-together and work like the rest of us?
In my thirties, I went to a conference at Willow Creek where I was first exposed to the sheer numbers in Africa impacted by the AIDS epidemic, and I felt the beginning of the push in the evangelical world to make a difference. But instead of action and generosity, what I picked up was guilt and shame. I should care more about the plight of people in third world countries, but “the poor will always be with us,” right? And after all, I really wasn’t “wealthy” at all… I lived paycheck to paycheck and all of my “needs” were not yet met.
Then, at forty-six, my life took a sharp and unexpected turn in which I ended up single, re-starting life across the country from where I was born and raised, among strangers instead of my family, church home and friends. I had been a stay-at-home Mom for twenty years, sixteen of which I had spent working from home for a company that went bankrupt right after I moved. I suddenly found myself with no income stream, no partner’s income, and very little work experience to put on a traditional resume. With that re-start came lessons in faith and provision along with painful lessons in what really constituted rights, needs and wants. A dose of reality in the plight of the poor.
Maybe you grew up like I did hearing phrases like “the poor will always be with us” or “if you won’t work you won’t eat.” These are thrown around as justification for our selfishness, materialism and personal kingdom building.
What if I told you that in reality, the Word has over three hundred verses where God shares His heart for the poor and for social justice causes? What if I told you that the responsibility of stewarding wealth is literally to share generously with the widow, orphan and stranger?
The String of Pearls ministry team has decided to throw our hat in the ring on the global cause of childhood malnutrition. We’ll be sharing more with you about our passion around the opportunity to make a difference in this social justice issue in the coming weeks.
Lynne Hybels in her book Nice Girls Don’t Change the World states:
“The opposite of a nice girl is not just a good woman, but a downright dangerous woman. A woman who shows up with everything she is and joins the battle against whatever opposes the redeeming work of God in our lives and in our world.”
We just happen to think that the preservation of God’s calling and kingdom assignments in the lives of the “least of these” is a good place to begin being dangerous women partnering with God’s redemptive work in this world.
This week consider the following:
- What lessons about money and the poor were taught in your home, church, and community?
- What needs to shift in your heart around meeting the needs of the poor, the widow and the orphan?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to shift your heart to align with His on the issue of global childhood malnutrition.