On more than one occasion, that’s been my first thought as I’ve stood in a home grander than mine, taking in the massive mahogany furnishings, the ample space, the stainless steel kitchen stocked with the best, overlooking a huge yard with a pool and hot tub. From the crystal chandelier to the books on the shelves, everything was beautiful. It wasn’t just nice stuff, it was the American Dream.
And it wasn’t just the American Dream, it was the ideal picture of carefree living.
We could live like this.
I’m not so proud of my first thought.
Or my second.
And by the time we were packing our family back into our well-loved minivan, I was feeling sorry for myself.
Not just because I wanted more, but I wanted to feel less. I wanted to escape The Knowing.
But it wasn’t just a pity party, it was a guilty pity party, because I knew if I was going to compare what I had with someone who had more, I also had to compare myself to someone who had much less. And if I was going to wish for the moment that I didn’t know how the rest of the world lives, I would also have to remember how empty and selfish that ignorance made me feel.
My husband told me just that when he heard me sigh on the drive home. He reminded me that people we love from Kenya will stay in our home again. And then he said, “Will they be able to tell the difference between our house and our carefree life and the one we just left?”
I thought of our ample space and big backyard, our life filled with conveniences, how each of my kids have their own bedroom and how we want for very little and I knew he was exactly right.
Oh, perspective. You get me every time.
I felt guilty that once again, I looked longingly at the American Dream and even more so at being oblivious. But some days when this burden is too heavy, the responsibility and inadequacy suffocating, I wish I could unsee human suffering that keeps me awake at night. And that my friends, is an honest glimpse into my not-always-pure-heart.
I couldn’t help but think about this quote that describes me so well.
I avoided coming to visit the poor…. for a long time. I was afraid my heart would be broken by their condition. Instead, today, I found my heart broken by my condition,” Ken Davis
My heart hurts for the world, but it breaks for me. Because, yeah. I’m a mess. And I constantly need to be reminded just how rich I am. It was one of the hardest chapters to write in Rhinestone Jesus–this deeper look into my wealth and abundance I enjoy and often take for granted.
Because I will always have more than most and less than some.
We balance mortgages and car payments and try to finagle our budgets to add music lessons and unexpected broken air conditioners and we bristle when we are called rich. But the truth is, if we have enough money to access a computer that allows us to read these words, we are among the richest people in the world. Still not convinced? I dare you to take this test and discover just how rich you are.
Once we accept the truth, we have a choice. Do we keep piling it up for ourselves or do we share it? And I’ve learned for me, it’s really about how tightly I hold onto my stuff, money included. Because when I open my hands to give, I also open them to receive. We can be a conduit, standing in the middle between God and people in need, ready to give spontaneously.
“We don’t give because we have a lot. We give because we’ve been given a lot to give away.” Rhinestone Jesus
By the time I got back home that night, I didn’t feel bad about what I didn’t have or what I’d missed and I didn’t regret what we’d given away.
“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill.
That’s the power of a generous life.
I saw how much I had, how wealthy I really am.
Once again, perspective was a gift to help me remember that generosity makes me far richer than luxury.