Thursday, January 5, 2012
Life in a Bubble
I recently spent time helping a family member get on his feet. We had appointments, court hearings and meetings to attend. There were applications to fill out with lots of little boxes to check. There were long lines to be waited in and numbers to be called.
Since this all had to be done far from my home, I had to borrow a car. Before I used it, I was told that if it doesn’t start the first time, just keep trying. “Oh great,” I thought, “maybe I should just rent a car.” I knew the kinds of places I was going to be visiting, and they weren’t the kinds of places where I wanted to be stranded with a car that wouldn’t start.
As my loved one and I went from appointment to appointment, looking for parking places, walking through urban areas that made this country girl uneasy, I began to realize that there is a whole other world out there that I have chosen to ignore. I’ve known it was there, but I function so far from it that I don’t often think about it. The people we passed on the street and waited with in line were different from me. I saw lots of walkers, canes and wheelchairs. I saw lots of children with tossled hair and dirty faces. I saw folks who were missing most of their teeth.
Yes, these folks were different from me, and yet they weren’t. We exchanged pleasantries and wished each other well. But each night, as I collapsed into my very comfortable bed in the very comfortable home of the friends I was staying with, I felt so broken. I felt I had entered a world that made me uncomfortable, and I didn’t like the feeling. It felt like I should be doing something to help, and yet what could one middle aged (ok, a little more than middle aged) woman do? It felt overwhelming. I realized that I live in a bubble—a very comfortable bubble—while so many people struggle just to make it day by day. They struggle with things like addictions, handicaps, mental illnesses and poverty. Many of them have never known any other kind of life.
While I get irritated with the driver in front of me who won’t go 5 mph faster, a handicapped woman struggles to get into a building where she can get the help she needs.
While I get frustrated because I feel my employer wants more from me than they are willing to pay me for, a young mom waits in a long line to find out if she can get the medical care her child needs.
When I overeat at dinner (again) a young child goes to bed hungry, and a homeless teenager eats dinner out of a dumpster.
While I struggle with my addiction to chocolate and sugar, an addict wakes up each morning with no other thought than how he will get his next fix.
When I wrestle with the decision of whether to get on the treadmill, or lay in bed for another half hour, a homeless man is awakened by the hot sun beating down on him. He has no choice but to get up and begin his daily struggle for survival.
As I put on my makeup and blow-dry my hair, a young girl, who thought she had found her “knight in shining armor” finds out he is really her pimp, holding her hostage and forcing her to sell her body for his gain.
And when I complain about a car that requires several trys before it starts, I realize that I am so stinking spoiled, it makes me feel sick to my stomach. But what am I to do?
God, show me the direction you want me to take with this new perspective you’ve given me. Show me how I can share your Unswerving Hope with those who so desperately need it, whether they live in the poverty described above, in a deceitful bubble of prosperity like mine. We really are more alike than I thought. Whether we are prosperous or poor, we are all in desperate need of God's Unswerving Hope.