I had intended this post to be posted on my private blog but I feel it needs to be said publicly.
I truly believe that we in the US do not understand what true poverty is.
As I was lamenting about our family's current circumstances I really started feeling very sorry for us. And then I realized we have it good compared to others in different places around the world.
My husband is unemployed. We have no insurance. We do not collect unemployment.
My daughter needs shoes but we can't afford them. I sold my gold wedding ring from my first marriage yesterday for a whopping $31. We are facing eviction. I have hardly a wardrobe because I can't fit into my old clothes and can't afford new ones. We have one car now that doesn't even have enough seat belts for the entire family. Our washing machine is acting up and I'm afraid it's going to die soon. Our dog is almost out of food. My cell phone payment is due the 15th. We need prescriptions but can't afford those either. We have $5 in savings. That's just enough to keep it open. Our heat got shut off last week. We had to go get firewood from a good friend. They lent us an electrical heater. Our power is next to go. We don't have credit cards. We don't have cable TV or internet. We don't go to church on Sunday because my kids don't have Sunday clothes that fit them. I can't even afford to go to the thrift store to buy clothes or shoes. Oh and I guess I'll be growing out my pixie short hair because I can't afford a hair cut.
I still don't know what poverty is.
I have a clean mattress with a pillow that I get to lay down on every night. Our government has programs out there to help families in need. We are living on food stamps right now. And I am SOOOOO grateful. I try and buy healthy food so I can cook good meals for my family. But if I really wanted to I could go buy lobster and caviar and I'd totally be able to buy it with my food stamps. How messed up is that? I don't know what it's like to go hungry. We have always had something to eat.
I have all of my teeth. I have all of my limbs. Even if I don't have health insurance I can still be treated at a hospital. The pharmaceutical companies help people be able afford their medications.
I have a bathroom. I don't have to take care of "business" in a river. I don't have to take my laundry to that same river and wash my clothes in. I don't have to bathe in that same water either. I don't have to drink that water.
The odds are extremely in my favor that I won't ever get malaria, a water born disease, leprosy, etc.
So what if my cell phone gets turned off? And if we get evicted there are shelters to help. Even if we lived on the streets there are still organizations that help the homeless.
I looked on wiki answers to find out how many people starve to death in the US. Their answer was none. There are food programs in every city across this country. There are food pantries, churches, families, volunteers who provide food for the poor. Poor kids in school can get reduced or free lunch. There are even summer programs that give free breakfast and lunch to kids 18 and under.
Oh and our heat? I applied for a state program and they were able to help us with a one time payment and the heat was back on the next day. We didn't have gas for a whopping 24 hours. And still I don't know what poverty is.
Do we have it hard? Yes. Am I afraid for the future? Yes. Do I want to live like this? No. Am I happy having to use government resources? No.
Are we poor? Yes. Am I poor in spirit? NO WAY!!
I have a wonderful family. I have amazing children. Do I feel sorry for myself that I can't afford "fun" things right now? Honestly, it's hard. We get so accustom to getting the things we want, when we want them. At least I was.
I have learned so much about what really matters in life. It's not material things. I think about that mom who lost both of her legs saving her children from the tornado a couple of days ago. They lost everything but each other.
What more matters? When did we become so superficial and so fake?
What matters to YOU? Stuff? Image? Social status? Family? UNCONDITIONAL love?
God has taught me a lot through this trial. I have learned who cares about me. I have learned who loves me. My family comes first. They can take all that I have except that. I won't let the world or this situation break me.
I want to let it though. It's so much easier to sit and feel sorry for myself when I stop and think about how much I DON'T have.
But when I think about how much I DO have I am eternally grateful. Even though my clothes aren't as cute as I would like them to be, I have things to wear. I have clean, hot water to bathe in. I have amazing neighbors who even help with my laundry.
Love is what matters. Making other feel love is what matters. Letting others love you is what matters.
I would be happy living in a cave if I was surrounded by love. Would you?
I thrive on love. This is what God needed to teach me. I need to be more loving and kind. That is what brings true happiness. I am grateful for those in my life that love me the way I am, flaws and all. I am grateful for those that love me as the Savior loves me. I think of my neighbor hauling off that basket of laundry. I think of our other neighbors loading up our trunk with wood. I think of the sacrifices others have made for me. And I am overwhelmed.
No, I don't know what poverty is.