I am interrupting my regularly scheduled programming to tell you I am weary of this exercise. In fact, I am finished and contemplating deleting every post.
I wanted to explore thankfulness. I wanted to see where a journey of gratitude would lead me. I felt that if I could learn the art of gratitude, I wouldn’t feel so empty. I wouldn’t feel alone. I wouldn’t feel insignificant.
I wound up unsettled and disgusted with myself. There is truth resonating with every letter I type and I can’t continue to disregard it.
Being thankful for my excess does not excuse my excess.
Being grateful for my idols doesn’t make them permissible.
Finding a blessing in the midst of my selfish gluttony doesn’t erase the stain of my sin.
I can no longer sit here and tell you how thankful I am for dumb things.
I can no longer tell you how thankful I am for chia tea lattes and Halloween candy while people go hungry. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.9 million children in the United States alone, are unable to consistently access nutritious food.
I can no longer tell you how much I love my cozy home or my leather seats with heaters when each night, as many as 60,000 people – including more than 22,000 children — sleep on the same streets upon which I drive my luxury SUV.
I can no longer tell you how grateful I am for good health and medicine when over 8 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition and mostly preventable diseases, each year.
I can no longer tell you how entertained I am by gadgets, and video games and stupid shows on TV when, for the 1.9 billion children (JUST children) from the developing world, there are:
- 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)
- 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
- 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)
I can no longer tell you how thankful I am for a wonderful school district, devoted teacher, and children that excel in the classroom when based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers.
I can no longer tell you how much I love the changing season or our sunny days and mild weather when I consider the trauma caused by latest natural disaster. An estimated 11.3 million people were affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan; 2.5 million people need food aid; 800,000 people have been displaced, and the government said nearly 300,000 pregnant women or new mothers need food assistance.
I can no longer sit here telling you how great my life is and how awesome my friends are when there are people out there who are betrayed and hurting at the hands of other people whom they trusted. Because of human trafficking, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 27 million in bondage across the globe.
This makes me angry. I am a spoiled brat. I have to stop talking about everything I have when so many have nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Not because I am unthankful, but because it suddenly seems empty, and feels contrived. Why am I so busy telling everyone what I have and what I am thankful for when there are so many who have nothing? I should be telling their story. I should be screaming about the injustice and demanding change. I should be discussing options and contemplating solutions.
What if everything on my list was taken away?
It happened to Job. It happened to Jews during the Holocaust. It happened to survivors of Katrina, and most recently, super typhoon Haiyan. It happens to victims of human trafficking every single day. There is nothing keeping it from happening to me, except the grace and love of God.
It makes my stupid fuzzy socks and great hair suddenly seem lame.
What if, instead of trying to decide between sending our back up PlayStation in for repairs, or just waiting to buy PlayStation 4; I had to figure out where we were going to sleep tonight, or which dumpster had the best chance of holding our next meal, or if I should believe well dressed man promising a better future in a far away place, or if I should leave my children on the steps of an orphanage in hopes they will take them in and meet their needs, or how to protect us from predators roaming the night when the only shelter I have is a lousy tent or a box or the tattered clothing on my back?
Maybe, maybe, there would be some justification if I did anything to help, but I don’t. I do nothing. I don’t want to give up anything on my list. I don’t want to be inconvenienced, or make a sacrifice to help another person. I don’t want to be interrupted.
Honestly, I don’t even want to be interrupted to steward of all the excess with which I have been blessed. (How’s that for complacency?) I complain about the piles of laundry and dishes and toys. I gripe about the dirty bathroom, or bedroom, or living room or car. I whine about the number of dance and football and church obligations we have. I fuss about having to drive all the way to the doctor’s office to get a flu shot or how bad the cold medicine taste. I protest when I have to get into a cold car and run to the grocery store to buy more junk food because we ate it all, already.
I want to sit on my heated leather seat, wearing my cozy designer threads, sipping my five dollar latte, admiring my great hair and reading a novel, while waiting for one of my awesome friends who always have my back to text saying they want to hang out. I want to go relax in my warm house with locking doors and my husband and his guns and feel safe. I want to send my kids off to school where I know they are safe and sound, and being educated. I want to medicate every sniffle while I spray Lysol, wipe everything in Clorox, and bathe the children in hand sanitizer, just to ensure the latest bug never lands at this house.
I am too ‘thankful’ for everything I have to let go of any of it – even for the sake of the greater good. I convince myself that sponsoring child or donating to a relief fund is only chump change and it will never make an impact or change a life.
It’s a damn good thing the little boy with five loaves and two fish didn’t think like me.
What if I were so thankful for everything that I have been blessed with, that I could not help but to share it with others? Because at the end of the day, isn’t that the point? What if I became consumed with the joy that comes from blessing another? What if instead of looking after my own interests, I put other people first? What if I gave anyway, even if it seemed insignificant, because I believed that my great and powerful God could turn my meager offering into a miracle with enough leftovers to change the entire world.
Instead of telling you I am thankful. I want to ACT thankful. I want to be satisfied, and gracious, and generous, and pass along my gifts so others can experience the joy that comes with receiving them. I want to do. to move. to change…
Here are some ways to help.
There are many, many more organizations through which to help. These are just the ones I am personally considering.