My daughters and I were sitting looking through a pamphlet that we had gotten from a Christian Ministry. There was a photo of a woman standing in front of her 10 foot by 10 foot mud hut with a tarp strung over the front door. There were her children, wearing the only change of clothing that they owned, happily playing with each other and no toys. She was preparing their daily meal, the only ONE meal that they would eat that day. We talked about being thankful and how important it was to help by sponsoring a child in another country less privileged. Then the day went on…..
I spent many times throughout the day cleaning up the numerous amounts of toys that were sprawled throughout my home. I went from room to room picking up things. I then had to get out the broom and dustpan and sweep up the many crumbs from snacks eaten throughout the home. I grabbed the vacuum to pick up crumbs from the carpet. When I made dinner, I pulled out my food processor to help me chop up my vegetables faster, mixed things with my hand mixer to do a quicker job, defrosted some meat in the microwave to help my meal get done sooner, and baked the casserole in the oven. When it was time for dinner, we pulled out the Ranch dressing, French dressing, and Italian dressing as we all like different ones. I had butter and jam to spread on our homemade bread that I made earlier in the day. We served ice cream in our pretty ice cream cone shaped dishes that we had gotten from the Dollar store. After the meal, we scraped the scraps into the trash. I had each child go wash their faces, brush their teeth, and this resulted in 4 different washcloths added to the mound of laundry. I put all of the dinner dishes into my dishwasher, but ah!….a few of them would not fit and so I would be forced to hand wash them, sigh. After cleaning up everyone’s dirty clothes from the day, I tucked all my children into the various rooms that they slept in. I then went to have a nice bubble tub soak in my bathtub from my long day. As I sat there my eyes wandered over to the stack of mail I brought in from this afternoon. There was the photo of the woman standing in front of her mud hut, and I had to think what that woman was feeling right now halfway across the world.
What would that woman think if she took a tour of my home. We don’t live as rich as some people do, but we do live fairly well off more then most of the world. What is it that we have different than most of the world, or even just this woman:
- We eat three square meals a day, snacks sometimes too
- We have plenty of food on hand
- We have heat by a flick of the thermostat
- We have cool air by a turn of the knob
- If someone is chilly, they can go get another article of clothing to add to themselves to make them warm
- I have 8 separate rooms in my home, they are all bigger than 10 by 10 feet
- When we flush our toilets, we never see where it goes
- When we turn on our faucets my children can get a clean glass of water to drink
- There are no holes in my walls or roof thus we stay protected
- I have a lock on all my outside doors to prevent someone from coming in against my will.
- We have over 18 windows from which to enjoy the outside world view from
- We have numerous cupboards filled with every gadget designed to help my life easier
- I have a bookshelf of books to read to occupy my mind
- My children have tablets, myself a laptop, never mind the Wii’s and other electronical devices that we own.
- We never leave our home without our cell phones, and every adult has their own.
- We have toothpaste, shampoo, bar soap, deodorant, perfume, hair products, makeup, and cleaning products.
- If I am tired from my day, I can serve dinner on paper plates and throw them away with no need to wash dishes. I can actually do this multiple times a week if I wanted to.
This woman would think we were living like kings and queens in our homes. She was poor and I was rich, what more can I do? How can I make a difference? Should I give more? In what areas can I save?
What were some ways that I could make a difference in what we spent on “luxuries” in our lifestyle:
- Cut back on sugar. In the 1800’s the average American ate 30 pounds of sugar each year. Now that figure is well over 100 pounds a year!!! When we prepare baked goods, we can usually take out 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sugar in each recipe without noticing a significant change in the way it tastes. Learn to enjoy the real natural flavors of food rather than the sweetness of the sugar.
- Avoid unnecessary snacks and over processed fast foods. This will cut down on excess sugar and wasteful packaging that is used in individual packaged snacks.
- Cut down on protein. Check out how much your body needs, most of us American eat well more than we need and it is usually in the form of animal protein.
- Eat a mixture of whole grains and legumes. You should eat grains with either milk, beans, or lentils to have a complete protein. If you have cereal grains it should be paired with milk. When serving corn or rice grains do so with beans. This is both cheaper and healthier way to obtain protein than through meat.
- Do not overeat. We have programmed our brains to feel that we need to eat until we are stuffed. Eat slowly and stop after a small serving of foods. You will be surprised at how your body will be content, you will feel better, and you will have added fewer calories to your diet. Eat foods rich in fiber, such as unpeeled fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps fill you up and is essential in body cleansing.
- We can hang out a load of towels or blankets, instead of putting them in the dryer Maybe doing this once or twice a week is better than none.
- We can wait on purchasing things to see if we “really need them” or just “think we want them.” Sometimes if we just wait, we can realize what we can do without.
The answer isn’t to always do without, or lowering yourself to a level with someone in a completely different culture. You won’t be able to help others much if you were in the same position as that woman. We fulfill the purpose of God wanting us to bless others as we share with them. We can either use our strengths, food, and finances for the welfare of others or we can use them for our own pleasures. We need to remember that we are not on this earth to live for ourselves, but to be an overflow of God’s love to others.
You should count it joy and satisfaction in seeing what you can do without (so that others can have), rather than what you can accumulate. Even though you may feel that we can’t even make a dent in the world’s need for things, no matter how much you skimp and save. But if you were starving, had no clothing, and were living in a frigid home, you would find that every penny counts. Just by not buying that $1 store toy (that is going to break anyways) you can buy a half of gallon of milk for a needy family.
Think of the disciples, how overwhelmed they must have thought when they were having to feed the 5000. But each one did their part. Someone had caught the fish, bread was baked by another, the boy had offered his lunch, the disciples distributed, and above all Christ blessed and multiplied the food.
We need to take this approach when we spend the money that God has blessed us with. Think of ways to help cut back on unnecessary, wasteful things in your life. We can all do our part to help others who are in a far worse situation than we are.
Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.