Let's Change Lives, Not Lifestyles
On a Saturday last Spring, our family was having a yard work day. The guys were mowing and weed whacking while my daughters and I pulled weeds in the flower beds. I took a break to grab the mail. I opened the mailbox and pulled out a letter and some bills. I opened an envelope and couldn’t believe what I was holding. It was a very large, very unexpected check, made out to me. I let out a gasp and my family looked up from working. I waved it in the air and they came over. “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!” I said.
“What is it?” my son and husband asked in unison.
I told them and my youngest said, “Momma, what are we going to do with that money?”
Before I could answer, these words flashed in my mind, Is this a blessing or a test? I knew the answer. “Honey, we are going to change lives with it.”
We can keep changing our lifestyles with every raise and “blessing” that comes our way, or we can change a life. That’s the hard truth in the daily choices we make. Yes, the truth hurts. I will tell you plainly, it is gutting me. I have met women in oppressive and pathetic situations who are hoping and praying we will make the right choice.
I can make my life better, more comfortable and more convenient, or I can change another person’s life so they can live another day. When we say it hard and clear like that, it almost makes it sound as if we are choosing between being selfish or selfless.
We get unexpected money in the mail and we say, “Oh, look, another blessing.” But what if God gave it to us so we could bless someone else with it? What if instead of giving God the minimum we gave him the most? What if we aren’t blessed at all? What if we have so much not because we are blessed but because we simply keep it ourselves? What if we have been given so much because we are supposed to give it away and not keep it? What if we are really just selfish? What if we are failing instead of succeeding?
We can change our lifestyles, or we can change lives.
Often when we change our lifestyles we saddle ourselves with debt and payments and we couldn’t change a life—ours included—even if we wanted to. When we have so much stuff, always trading in and up for bigger and better, we don’t feel less burdened; we feel only more tethered to this earth. I can say it because I have lived it—so heavy with stuff that it nearly choked me to death.
I cannot get Mother Teresa’s words out of my head, “When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.”
What if we took Richard Stearns’s version of Scripture to heart:
For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.
I love nice things and a good lifestyle as much as everyone else. This isn’t a post to tell us to have less and it's not a guilt trip; it’s a challenge to consider what we are given. It’s a dare to ask if we have we are blessed with is meant to keep or share.
Kristen's new book, Raising World Changers in a Changing World released today! In this inspiring book, Welch shows parents how to discover for themselves and instill in their kids the profound joy that comes from sharing what we have been given--our time, our talents, and even what's in our wallets--with those who have less. Through powerful personal stories as well as stories from Scripture, Welch offers a tantalizing alternative to status quo parenting that has the power to impact not only our own families but the entire world. At the end of each chapter, one of the author's kids offers their perspective on what it's like to be raised as a world changer.
Hi I'm Kristen Welch. I’m wild about sweet tea and I have a thing for globes and maps. I love color and words and my house has a lot of both. I’m parenting teens and a tween with my husband slash best friend of more than 20 years. I’m the founder of Mercy House and Fair Trade Friday and sometimes I write books. I love traveling and experiencing new cultures, trying new foods, and I’m a big fan of all things fair trade. I share my broken and beautiful story in my memoir, Rhinestone Jesus, and I share how it’s changed the way we parent in Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. My life is messy and redeemed and I’m grateful for the chance to live it.
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