My earliest memory of "different" is of playing down the road at my friend Michael's house. His house had a 6-car garage, each filled with a shiny Corvette. His house had many rooms. His basement had a temperature regulated air-hockey room, as well as a pool table and mini-bar. His dad was rarely home and his mom seemed sad and lonely.
My house was pretty and happy and normal. I had my own room, a football shaped soap-on-a-rope and a Barbie record player with a microphone. My sister and I used to make forts in the woods behind our house, pick strawberries, and explore for hours before our much-needed nightly baths, in which I used my soap-on-a-rope, courtesy of the door-to-door Avon lady. My parents kissed a lot and laughed, we ate dinner as a family, and they took us to the park and to get ice cream cones once in a while.
And yet, America thinks the bigger house in scenario one with the 6-car garage is the goal.
We have some serious First World Problems.
Because, on any given day, what matters is that I grew up loved and by growing up in a loving home, I, in turn, learned how to love, or at least was shown love is what matters. Sure, there have been times where a granite topped mini-bar in the basement sounded like a good idea, but then, well, then I put it into perspective. Life does that to you when something real happens. When something happens over which you have no control...when you did everything you knew to do, yet the outcome wasn't what you wanted or dreamed of.
On any given day, 25,000 children under the age of 5 pass away. On any given day, somewhere in the world, a husband or a wife live out the words, "Til death do us part." Accidents, natural disasters, sickness, and natural aging all lead to death, on any given day. And the tragic thing is, as humans we contribute to this heartache by creating scenarios where more sadness is fostered, through wars and abuse and murder and hatred, comparison, bullying, whatever...because there isn't enough devastation in the world?!
Over the course of the last few months, on any given day, these are just a few of the things about which I talk to God, not understanding, not being able to control or manipulate it, but just going before Him, trusting He sees "The Other 90%" and that He is good and has a plan, despite my limited perspective:
- A friend who has suffered years of emotional abuse in her marriage
- A friend who is a single mom, working so hard to support herself and her kid
- A friend who had to take her mom off life-support
- A friend who lost her husband and is now raising their kids on her own
- A friend who has cancer
- A friend who has gone through a divorce and is starting life new after 20 years
- A friend whose husband lost his job
- A friend whose husband is unfaithful
- Friends who have kids with special needs
- Friends trying not to grieve while their sick baby is still with them
- Friends who have lost children
- All the single mom's I know whose ex's are slackers
- The people I know who are totally jaded by American Christianity, asking God to somehow use messed-up me to show them His love
- The friend with the terminal illness
- The one who is struggling with addiction but is afraid to share
- Friends who are missionaries, living far away from loved ones
- Friends recovering from bankruptcy
- Friends struggling with depression
- My mom who's going through chemo, again, because the cancer has returned
I'm grateful I can take actions to encourage others, though I know I can't fix it all. At the same time, I'm also very grateful I don't run the Universe, but I trust in the One who does, and even though I hate pain and suffering, on any given day He promises to be near to those whose hearts are wrecked...and from experience, He's not a liar.
*What's on your prayer list? Are you overwhelmed by it or is it something you are able to trust God with, on any given day?