Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Reality Check

Posted on behalf of Deron Denton.

The recent heat wave here has been keeping people from getting outdoors as much as they had been earlier this summer. Therefore I hadn’t seen a neighbor for awhile until we touched base this weekend.

I asked him how he’d been.
“We are really hurting,” he said. He can’t afford to keep making payments on his truck because the grocery and electricity bills are starting to really eat into their budget. And they have home repair work that needs to be done but the cost of materials, he said, has gone up considerably.

I had just returned from filling up my car, so I could relate…but only a little. It does seem, though, like we are all tightening our belts and carefully watching the way we spend money. That conversation has reverberated in my mind, causing a bit of (irrational?) panic to set in regarding finances.

For a couple of years now, one of the first thoughts I have when I feel the pangs of financial insecurity is about a friend of mine named Aaron. He began sponsoring a child while going through his own financial woes. Yes, you read that correctly: he BEGAN sponsoring when he was feeling financially insecure. Granted (and he won’t mind me saying this), Aaron is a little different from many – still, that counter-intuitive reaction has stuck with me. Though I don’t want to tout the specific ways it has impacted my actions, his example has – occasionally – guided me.

I decided to send Aaron an email, asking if he’d explain this unusual philosophy. He opened up his reply with a description of something he calls “baglady” syndrome:

“It is that irrational fear probably based upon all the pressures of modern life to keep up our lifestyles with computers, iPods, TV's, cars, gas, mortgage, food, clothes and everything else whereby we fear we will lose our jobs, become homeless, trade aluminum cans for food money and hold up signs on the side of the road hoping for spare change knowing we will never actually ‘work for food.’
“I was having just such fears when I decided to sponsor a child at Children International. I have spent a lot of time in foreign countries where there is real poverty, even volunteering for years at an orphanage in rural Mexico.

“I have a soft spot for children in these countries and have ever since my first visit to Mexico with my Spanish class in 7th grade. My father gave me $100 for souvenirs but I quickly gave it all away to the beggars in Mexico City before we even got to Tasco or Acapulco. My heart ached for them. It was a sight I had never seen in the States and it tore me up then as it does still today.”


Aaron concluded his answer with this:

“So in my heart and head I knew in this land of plenty I would never be homeless unless I chose to be. And part of overcoming this fear for me was to sponsor a child through Children International. Last year, I called the field officer to see what her family most needed and was able to provide them with a monetary gift to buy these items.

“The letter I received after that tore me up. Genesis relayed to me that at 14-years old, it was the first time in her life she had a bed of her own. They sent me photos of all the new items they were able to buy and told me how much it changed their lives.


“I am still unsure about my future and my job and what life may bring my way, but I do know that as long as I help others I always seem to be provided for myself.”

I probably wouldn’t make such a suggestion to my neighbor who is feeling financially squeezed. But it is good to be reminded of my reality: I have everything I need – I lack nothing essential.
As our blog audience knows, that places me in a very fortunate position, indeed.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I TOTALY HEAR YA... AND I SAY TO MY OWN KIDS...IF WE FEEL THE PINCH OF THE RECESSION...THN TRY SELLING ONE OF UR 2 TVS OR IPODS..OR SELL UR CAR AND USE UR PUSH BIKE OR SCOOTER????/ LIKE U HAVE A CHOICE....
AND THEY DONT AND PROB NEVER WILL KNO...POVERTY!!!

Anonymous said...

MY ADVICE IS..DONT PANIC..
I HVE IN THE PAST LET KIDS GO, THEN LATER REALISED I NEED'NT HVE , BY THEN ITS TOO LATE.....;((

Efrain said...

On this line, I have a story to tell. I have been a sponsor since 1992 (sponsoring children with another charity before CI). On March I began a plan to switch careers thinking how much more I could do whether I could earn more money. Well, less than a month after putting the plan in motion, I was told the manufacturing plant I work on is going to close. The seeming coincidence was so stunning that I thought that the divine was conspiring to keep me afloat throughout this difficult times.

Hilde said...

My husband passed away one year ago and I was left alone with 2 young children. One of the first things friends were asking, when they asked me about my finances was: "So, are you still going to sponsor all those children?" It never entered my mind to stop my sponsorships. I have all the "stuff" I will ever need and can't imagine not being a sponsor.

Don Shetterly - Relaxing Piano Music said...

When I first started sponsoring a child, I had just came through bankruptcy and basically lost everything that I had. About the only thing I had was my car and enough money to move to a new state where I started a new job. Money was so tight that I wasn't able to buy groceries until I got my first paycheck which was about three weeks after I started working. I basically had to rebuild my life from scratch. But once I started getting my paycheck, I knew that I wanted to sponsor a child. For no matter how hard I had it in those days, it was my reminder of how much I did have and how much promise there was for me. I've been through some rough times but I have never looked back with my sponsorship. Each month, I find the money to help my sponsored child and now I'm on my second child.

linzi said...

I am sponsoring two girls in India and even though I am still finishing my masters and also living and working in India (= on indian wages!) I know I can never stop sponsoring my two bright young ladies. I met the older of my sponsored children, Khayrunnesha, in when she was 11.. now she is a smart, hard-working 15 year old... it makes me so happy to know I can make a difference in my two girls' lives, even though I am still struggling to make my own mark on the world.. I hope will I am in India that I can visit my second sponsored child, Saba, who has recently turned 9.