#firstworldprobs - 5 things i’ve complained about this week & 5 facts to put me to shame
- COMPLAINT: We don’t have any food in the house. Add to this complaint the oft repeated (revolting) little phrase: “I’m starving.” These complaints would be better worded: “I wanted to make pumpkin oatmeal pancakes with fresh berries and nutella for breakfast, but I’ve run out of pumpkin. I guess I’ll have to make something else.” OR “I haven’t eaten anything since lunch, and I’m (most likely psychologically) beginning to feel hungry as I near my third full meal of the day.” Yes, I am hanging my head in shame right now.
- FACT: I have food in the house. I am not starving. In this country, 49 million people struggle to put food on the table. Globally, 800 million people in the world are starving. Since you began reading this post 7 people have died of hunger. I’m not a math person, so the immensity of numbers like this can go in one ear and out the other. I do better with single human lives. A few months ago as I put my son to bed, I thanked God that he wasn’t going to bed hungry or sick or afraid which led me to praying for children who were going to bed hungry and sick and afraid which led me to the moms. The moms always get me. Millions of moms had put their children to bed that night hungry and sick and afraid, feeling guilty for the lack of the day and worried about the lack of tomorrow. I wept for them. I prayed for them. Thank you, God, for giving me food to eat and feed my children.
- COMPLAINT: Why did we buy a three bedroom house?! This one comes out of my mouth way too often. You want to know why we bought a three bedroom house? In our omniscience we knew that three bedrooms would be just perfect for our one-boy, one-girl two child family where everyone would get their own little space and sleep perfectly and live happily ever after. The end. 4+ kids later, and I tend to question our decision.
- FACT: About 1 billion people in the world do not have suitable housing, and 100 million are entirely homeless. Almost 200 million households in India (70% of all households) are one or two room homes. Not one or two bedrooms. One or two rooms. After counting my formal (essentially unused) living room and my kids’ playroom, I’ve hit that number. Groan. Thank you, God, for my wonderful home.
- COMPLAINT: I wish I could buy [something completely superfluous, unnecessary, and possibly even distracting/unhelpful/most-likely-to-create-clutter-and-end-up-in-the-trash]. I don't carry a Coach bag, I don't wear designer clothes, I'm only talking about Target here. I just want that cute throw pillow. I see what other people make and spend and have and feel like I need (deserve) what they've got. The problem here isn't just that I'm comparing myself to others, but also that I'm comparing myself to the wrong others.
- FACT: 1.2 billion people live on $.23 a day. TWENTY THREE CENTS (as in less than a quarter. As in “Hey, there’s a quarter lying there on the ground, but I’m too lazy to reach down and pick it up."). Another billion people live on $1 a day. Half of the people in the world live on less than $2 a day. These numbers in a $5/day at Starbucks sort of culture are just unimaginable. Every single person reading this post is filthy. rich. How do I know this? Because if you own a computer, you are within the world’s wealthiest 4%. If you make $50,000/yr you are within the world’s wealthiest 1%. Are you a plumber? Teacher? Insurance adjustor? Welcome to the top 1% of the planet. Even if you live at the US poverty level of $25,000 (which I understand would be truly difficult in our country), you are within the wealthiest 10% of people in the world. Most of the world struggles to obtain water, food, medical care, education, housing, and other basic needs. My trip to Target where I just have to have a new throw pillow? #thestruggleisreal. The struggle is not real. I don’t even understand the struggle. Thank you, God, for the extreme wealth you have blessed me with. (My family is not in financial distress right now. Maybe yours is, and it is a genuine source of worry and pain. I am so sorry for this. It’s not my intent to throw facts at you in a “just have some perspective and get over it” sort of way. I pray that God uses these facts to build contentment in your heart. I urge you to read how Jesus lovingly speaks specifically to you in your trial in Luke 12:22-34 and that you find comfort as you “consider the ravens” and “consider the lilies.")
- COMPLAINT: I do not feel like homeschooling today. Funny Story: Last week we missed our homeschool co-op because the kids were sick. Halfway through the day I got a message from my best friend: “No fair! You got out of fish dissections!” (Along with characteristically non-dramatic words like “gag” and “puke”) I forgot this week was fish dissection week and did an internal happy dance while I lamented with my daughter, “Oh, sweetie, I forgot you missed the fish dissection today, I’m sorry.” A word of advice: If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t celebrate too soon. Your friend/child’s teacher may just bring the dead fish to church, so that you can dissect it yourself at home (let’s just say she’s a better teacher than she is friend). This is when you have your daughter put on her sweetest little voice and call her nursing student uncle to come over help her with (do) said dissection. Here’s the string of questions my brother asked as he walked in: “Do you have a dissection kit? What kind of fish is it? Do you have any reference information about the anatomy of a fish? What’s the objective of the lesson?” Me: “I have no answers.” (Though I did come in clutch when he asked for a cookie sheet.) Let me tell you, he cut that thing open like a regular old fish surgeon and used words like “air vacuole.” In this situation, I made the right call bowing out and calling a pro (in training), but typically, my daughter’s education falls on me...and sometimes I just don’t want to do it. (You may not homeschool, but I’m sure you can relate to being weary of your child's schoolwork. Your dissection story equivalent may be doing an hour of homework with your kid after dinner. People say often say things like, “I don’t know how you homeschool.” Well, I don’t know how YOU do THIS. We don’t touch a book or anything school related after 3pm. Ever. We don’t even allow educational TV. “Sorry, kids, you know the rules. Magic School Bus is only for 9am-3pm.” I think you get the picture. Come 3pm, I’m done.)
- FACT: 59 million children do not go to school. Share this little fact with your kids and they may jump out of their skin in jealousy, but the reality is that these kids (almost always) spend the entire day working or caring for siblings. (We talk about children "growing up too soon." About 250 million children have to work to help their families survive.) The "lucky" ones who do have access to education may travel miles through every kind of terrain and dangerous situation just to get there (Check out "On the Way to School" or "Half the Sky" on Netflix for more heartbreaking facts and visuals. Don't forget the tissues.). Once at school, education is hindered by lack of trained teachers, books, materials, and even light. Makes the public school system look a little better, doesn't it? The effect of these numbers are that 900 million people around the world can't read or write. Talk about a hindrance to "upward mobility." Thank you, God, that my children have access to education.
- COMPLAINT: My kids will not leave me alone while I (try to) have my devotions. Don’t they know that THEY are the ones who are going to benefit? Mom without at least 30 minutes of Bible reading, chai tea, and silence in the morning = ungrateful, unfocused, unmotivated mom. So in an effort to help them see my dire need for the grace of God, I choke out, “Mommy is trying to spend. time. WITH. JESUS!!!!”
- FACT: There are 180 million people without access to ANY scripture. On top of this number, 1.5 billion people are without the full Bible in their language. I have eight Bibles in my basement that I could walk down and get at any time. (Side note: If you haven’t seen this video and are in the mood for crying, check out this clip of Chinese Christians receiving bibles for the first time. Okay, have you gotten a tissue, blown your nose, wiped your eyes? Now we can move on.) Here’s one more thing to be grateful for: I have the Holy Spirit. This one is just miraculous. Jesus actually said about the Spirit “it’s better that I go” (John 16:7). God Himself actually dwells in me and functions as my “Helper” (John 14:26) through whom I've "receive power" (Acts 1:8). As much as I need time in God’s Word each morning, "I have hidden [God’s] Word in my heart” (Psalm 119:11) for the Holy Spirit to "bring to [my] remembrance" (John 14:26). No matter what my devotions were like this morning, "His divine power has granted to [me] all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). Thank you, God, for giving me your Word. Thank you, God, for giving me your Holy Spirit.
FACT: "If all beneath me falls away, I know that you are God" ("O God of Love" by Stuart Townend). Tomorrow the world as I know it could change. I could lose everything I own. I could join these statistics that are so incomprehensible to me now. I could face "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword" (Romans 8:35). STILL I would have hope. STILL I could thank and praise God, "for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). Thank you, God, for your love.
(I’m not really a cite your sources kind of gal, but all of these facts were found on the following web sites: compassion.com, wycliffe.org, globalissues.org, callandresponse.com, unicef.org, freethechildren.com, prb.org, sendmyfriend.org and in the book "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey Sachs)