Judging a Book by its Possessions
Hi friends! I’ve been home from Haiti for almost a month now and am back in the swing of things. I’ve really increased my support raising efforts and have been focusing mainly on that since returning home. On the one hand, I’ve been seeing God do some AWESOME things! I’ve been able to have some really great conversations with people about God, missions, orphan care, and what it means to love others. I have really enjoyed those conversations and the deepening of relationships I’ve experienced with my friends. I’ve also had several unexpected people donate, and that is always just a delightful surprise! And lastly, I have seen God answer prayers in such a direct manner, that it simply causes me to rejoice and glorify His name! It’s so humbling and awe-inspiring to know that the God of the universe heard my prayer and answered me!
Then, of course, there have been some negative aspects of support raising also. It’s difficult scheduling meetings with people when everyone’s lives are so busy and schedules are so full. It’s always awkward asking for money, and following up to REMIND people to follow through on their commitment to donate is even more awkward. I think the most discouraging thing is when someone I think will definitely support/donate tells me they “can’t”. It’s so disheartening. I’m not talking about the friends I have who are struggling to pay off their student loans or are raising money on their own to fund their adoptions. No, those people I would expect not to give and am delightfully surprised when they do. I’m talking about the people who live in large, lavish homes, drive expensive cars, and eat out at fancy restaurants every weekend. Now, I know that I really have no idea what their financial state is like, despite what appearances suggest. I tell myself that I don’t know what unseen debt or medical bills might be lurking behind those fast cars and designer clothes. I mean, maybe they’re already giving 50% of their income to tithing and charitable causes. I really don’t know! I pray and ask God to give me peace about it and confess that I am sinfully judging others for their lack of generosity. It’s hard not to judge.
This is a mindset that occurs frequently after having visited the poorest places in the world. When you’ve seen (in real life, not just on a TV commercial) children with bloated bellies and rotten teeth who wear tattered clothing and no shoes, it puts things in perspective. When you see homes made out of tents where families sleep on a dirt floor, it puts things in perspective. After returning from Africa that first time, this was the most life-shattering part of the entire journey. We had to come to grips with the excessive waste and luxury of the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I love America, and I am so proud to live here! I think our nation’s wealth is a gift from God, and it should be enjoyed. We don’t have to feel guilty about sleeping in beds and taking hot showers. We don’t even have to feel guilty about going on a vacation! But we also should be good stewards of what God has given us and use our blessings to bless others.
Our trip to Africa really solidified this ideal in our lives. Blake and I have committed to live “lean” lives. We abide by a pretty strict budget, keeping our unnecessary costs to the bare minimum. That’s not to say we don’t treat ourselves every now and then. But we do try to give extravagantly and spend less money on ourselves.
So now allow me to let you in on a big life decision we are making…we are about to buy our first house! You may or may not know that since last September we have been living with my parents while I raise my support for World Orphans. We are thrilled to actually be building a home, and we are hoping to move in around September or October. We have narrowed our choices down to two homes. They are both nice and both meet all of our needs (current needs and future needs, allowing for extra rooms and space for when our family eventually grows). They are also both close to the same price.
In case you’re wondering where this is going, let me explain…one home is significantly larger, and in a much nicer neighborhood, and on a much bigger lot than the other. So most people would automatically choose that one right? It just makes sense! To be honest, Blake and I have really struggled with this decision! Even though both homes are about the same price, we just have a hard time seeing ourselves in such a huge home! In the sense of stewardship, we know it is a wise decision because the value of the home is much greater than the smaller one. We know that we can afford the monthly payments AND still be able to give to our church and other ministries, and that we would not be cheating God out of anything. But here’s why it’s such a hard decision…I’m afraid that people will see this large, very nice home and judge me the same way I’ve been judging others! I’m afraid people will not want to donate or support me through World Orphans after seeing this home.
God is teaching me so much through this process as his Spirit has been convicting me left and right. I’ve been judging others, I’ve been placing my hope in people rather than in God, and I’ve been prideful of our lifestyle, thinking that our tight budget and tithe checks makes us holier than others. It’s definitely a tough line to walk, because I believe that “living lean” in order to give extravagantly and cheerfully is a very good thing that pleases the Lord! But when it becomes a source of pride in our lives, we need to re-evaluate our intentions. Am I “living lean” so that I might bring glory and honor to God and serve those in need? Or am I doing it so that others can know how generous and holy I am? And about the house, am I going to make my decision based on what others might think or based on what’s the best decision for our family?
Thank you for reading this blog. Today’s post included some very personal thoughts and feelings that I wasn’t sure about sharing. I want you to know that I’m human, but I’m trying my best to walk in a way that is pleasing to God.
Please pray for me as I continue the support raising process. Ask that God would go before me and prepare hearts, giving them a burden for the fatherless and an eagerness to “take up the cause” regardless of what it might cost them. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and peace for me as I struggle with the discouragement and awkwardness that comes with support raising.