"God gives people money to see how you're going to handle it", [Leigh Anne] said. And she intended to prove she knew how to handle it.-The Blind Side
When I read this quote four months ago I thought about the wealth the Tennessee family had, I was encouraged by their desire to use what they had to make a difference, and I decided I didn't have enough "financially" to give to anyone. (Sure, I try to give of myself in terms of time and energy. Volunteering is a hobby, and now a job!)
This isn't going to be a post where I tell you all to give money to some fund, or make us all feel some kind if American guilt. I look at that like I look at campo guilt: unnecessary. It is going to be a post where I talk about realizing I had more wealth than I realized and just hoping I use it correctly in this different cultural setting. It's also not a post for everybody, so that's a thing.
First, my iPhones... Yes plural. I've talked about this before, but it still throws me when people know I have two and ask about it. Long story short, I bought the second one right before I left because it was one dollar and the other one was three years old and on its last leg. It Has recently entered hospice stage. My phone was OLD, and my new one was CHEAP. This is what I tell myself, and this is what I still believe. That is not what it feels like to my neighbors when I tell them. They ask me all the time how much my stuff costs. I told them the truth that is cost me a dollar (RD$40) and I tell them that I wouldn't have spent full price right before I left, but somehow I can still feel the judgment through their laughs. "Yeah, Americana. An iPhone was cheap. Don't patronize me." Do I hide it because the likelihood of them having the purchasing power for an iPhone anytime soon is almost impossible, or so I share it with my neighbors when they come over to listen to music or play games?
The same thing happened recently with my Kindle. "How much was that?" I feel like I have to justify the fact that my Kindle was also three years old, that it wasn't a touch screen, and that it was a gift (thanks Mom!), but I still had this pit in my stomach when I went to explain it to my neighbor. She is a 16 year old girl who brings me random food and reads Harry Potter in Spanish with me out loud off of the Kindle. I appreciate that I have the technology for us to read this book together, but I hate that it comes with this awkward backlash. I can't tell if it's awkward for her, and it's only awkward for me because I think it's awkward for her.
What wealth have I been given here? A Kindle, and many other electronics that have me praying for the electricity to come back on. Am I using that wealth in the right way? I hope so. I haven't decided.
I also feel like I should point out, because of the subject of this post, that I recently heard Andy Stanley talk about the parable of the three men with the bags of money. "What will you do with what you've been given?" At the end off all our lives we have too look at that. So I say to me and I guess to you:
What has God, life, or however you see the world given you? We have time, space, opportunity, family, friends, hope, love, sacrifice, and yes, stuff and money. What are you doing with what you've been given? Are you making you a happier you with what you've been given? Were you given a wealth of time (Amanda) that you aren't using to study Spanish? Were you given a wealth of opportunities to spend time with your family that you are wasting away at something else? Were you given a chance to go to school to study something you love, but are squandering it by complaining you don't have the abilities? Do you have the ability to save a horse and ride a cowboy, but you haven't taken the time to learn what that means?
Worst of all (Amanda), are you too busy whining to yourself that you don't have enough, that you can't make use of what you have?