“It’s not much, God bless you". This is what I said as I handed a couple $10.00 out of my wallet after hearing their conversation. Based on what I heard I had reason to believe they truly needed and deserved it. But it wasn’t just that. It brought me back to just a few years ago when ten dollars would have felt like Fifty.
It was only a few years ago that I was on my knees asking God to provide toilet paper, razors, toothpaste and so much more for my family. In a world where many people were walking away from their mortgages, we chose to hang onto our house, because we felt it was the right thing to do. This meant no more basic items like ice cream… or meat. Rice and beans became our staple. We had a big beautiful house, but inside we were living in near poverty. We could no longer get a hair trim every 3-6 months, but waited till once a year rolled around. This included my kids. I couldn’t buy ink for my printer – or paper for that matter. I remember longing to afford used clothes for us.
My husband was working 2 jobs and I, somewhere around that time, got an injury that put me out of work for years with 2 surgeries performed and I still wait to function normally.
You may have heard it said, “When all we have is God, He is enough”. It’s true. Same is true with the saying, “When all you can do is pray, prayer is enough”. I have lived this…many times throughout my life. During the financially challenging years I cried out to God to meet our needs. I rarely told people, because if I did, they didn’t know what to do and didn’t understand I needed help or that they could help, even if just a little. People fail us. God doesn’t. I stayed on my knees during that time and continue to, even today for our needs. I have seen God bless us through others, but I've also seen Him sustain us, like when our clothes didn't fall apart till after we finally had some income to buy more. We may not get what we want, but we are provided for.
God had us go through that season for a reason. We now know what it’s like to live without and we know He is still God and still good. I fought jealousy hard during those many months – seeing other people’s kids get haircuts, new shoes and coats for them and their family, eating out, having treats and doing special events while I sewed my family’s socks and underwear. I’m human after all. I remember planning trips out of the house because I didn’t have enough gas money. I was even shut out of many invites because others knew I wouldn’t go or didn't have the money.
But- Now that we have been through hard times, we no longer hold onto our money as tightly. We are much more quick to give, even when we are not sure we will have what we want, but we know we have what we need. I think as American’s we can get so used to having what we want. If you and your kids are clothed and fed, and you have enough money for gas in your car and can afford extras after paying the rent or mortgage, you probably have something to give, even if a few dollars.
Last year I had a friend who wanted new shoes. There was a buy 2, get one free sale. She decided to give me the third pair. There are all kinds of ways to help others and serve those in need. Open your heart for it and ask God to show you who and how to help.
Do I dream of having enough money to buy the shoes like she did? Yes, after all I’m a woman! BUT I’d rather my heart be in the place where I see how I can serve and help someone who has it worse than me. This is what keeps me thankful, grateful and humbled. This is what shows my kids what’s important in life – People, not things - serving, not consuming. This is what makes us the kind of people who are satisfied and content. We give because we love and that is what I want in my heart. Love instead of constant wanting for myself or my family. To trust God instead, and bring a moment of hope or joy into someone else's life.
Please keep an open mind and heart to those around you, and not just the ones on a screen, but the ones you meet or know in real life. He will provide for you as you give to others.