This weekend I was having a nice chat with my Grandma and told her about 25 in Change. I told her why it is such a great campaign. About 14,000 kids are dying every day due to lack of food. I have never seen a look on her face like that before. She couldn’t comprehend those kinds of numbers, and I don’t blame her one bit.
By eating beans and rice for 25 days, we try to place ourselves in the lives of the kids that suffer from lack of food. We can’t see or experience all of their suffering, but through being in solidarity with them in their fight with chronic hunger, we get a little bit closer to understanding them and ourselves.
Last Sunday, after our group meeting, I couldn’t sleep. Not because I was hungry, but because I was pumped in seeing the people around me changing. Since I was 18, I have been pretty involved with mission work–both locally and globally. A thought came to me during last week’s session: We are on a mission trip.
We haven’t applied for passports, and haven’t received any shots to prevent tropical diseases, but we feel connected the same way one feels when going to a developing country and immersing oneself in a radically different culture. To be honest, I am amazed at the feelings we are all experiencing; I even lose sleep some nights because I get so excited about what this is doing in my life, the lives of advocates around me, and especially, the lives of children who are getting a fighting chance in life.
As I process some of my experiences from mission trips, my world is rocked by some of the things I’ve seen with my own eyes. After spending time with some of the poorest children in Zimbabwe, I haven’t been able to shake the overpowering sense of empathy which comes with such an experience. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that on some weekends I drop $100.00+ for entertainment, when that could have fed 400 children? How do I make sense of buying a $40,000 car when that could have fed 160,000 children? 160,000 people with names, futures, ambitions, dreams, and families just as real as my own. These questions have been a serious struggle for me for me for a long time, and I hope many of you have struggled with the same types of issues.
For me, it took a little while to be able to understand my feelings and how to handle them. I looked to God for the answer, and the answer he gave me was, “be quiet and listen, and when you are called upon act”. It has brought peace to my heart to know that if I listen, the Holy Spirit will direct me. I have to make myself available to God’s movements, and I know that God can’t steer a parked car.
The greatest parking break in my life which prevents God from moving me is my attachment to worldly possessions. The more attached I get, the harder it is to hear what God is trying to tell me. I’m not saying that all people should sell all their possessions and take a vow of poverty–it is fine to have nice things. But, we can’t fall in love with them.
So, how do we know if we have fallen in love worldly possessions? Simple. Do you have a relationship with it? Do you rely on it the way you rely upon a loved one to bring you happiness? Is the object nice to have, or does it feel necessary to have? If it is taken away do we feel disappointed or devastated?
There is no simple line that exists between liking something and being in love with it, but there is a way of knowing ourselves more fully to deal with life’s struggles. We need to be constant sponges of God’s love. We can’t be sponges that just retain water, we have to be capable of soaking it up and squeezing it out. My hope for all of us, is that we will take on the challenge of being sponges that can retain all the love we come in contact with, and that when we are squeezed to see what we are full of, we respond with pouring out love on contact.