Discrepancy. Dictionary.com defines it as “the state of differing or being inconsistent”. I believe in a free market system. I believe that you should be able to keep the money you earn without being too heavily taxed. I believe if you take the ability to make money out of a person by taking too much of his wages, he won’t want to work anymore. I also believe that God has told us to share with others out of our excess. Not be forced, but because we are supposed to do that. He designed us to be able to share and to have good feelings when we give to others. We are made in His image, and he has shared with us, entrusting us with all creation. We are His stewards.
But, that being said, we are naturally selfish. You can see it in the toddler that says, “mine” and takes things from others and whines and cries when she doesn’t get her way. As adults we may sometimes be better at masking it, but in our hearts, we still cry and whine when we don’t get our way. I do that. I am being made aware of my selfish tendencies more every day here apart from my comforts of home. I am thankful for that.
For over 24 hours yesterday, I was sick. Really sick. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I was throwing up, among other things. I’m sure you can figure it out. It was a 24 hour virus and Scott and Natalie have both had it over the past week and a half. As I alternated between the bed and the bathroom, I had a lot of time to think about being sick, being sick away from home, and how blessed I am. At home if I was sick like that my dad would bring me chicken noodle soup and Gatorade, I would be laying on my Tempurpedic mattress in my king sized bed, and sprawled on a thick bathmat in the bathroom. Here I was thankful that I had a bed to lay in at all with a comforter on it to keep me warm when I had chills from the fever. I lay on a wet towel on the cold tile floor in the bathroom and was extremely grateful for the toilet I had to sit on or throw up into.
It’s not like that for most people here. Even here, I am living in excess.
We were at the store the other day and my kids had to go to the bathroom. An employee took us to a room in the back where the employees go. It was a hole in the floor. The smell was atrocious and there were flies. My oldest child looked at me and said quietly, “Mom, I just can’t do it.” I understood.I thought about our guard, Tesfi, who lives in a house with no bathroom, made of sticks and aluminum and tarps with a dirt floor, and I wondered how he feels when he gets sick. No comfy mattress. No toilet seat. When it rains, is he cold and wet to the bone? Does he worry about his little baby during rainy season? It is just beginning here and I’m getting an inkling of how disastrous it could be for some families that live with dirt floors, tarp roofs, cook everything on an outdoor fire, and dry their clothes on rope strung between trees. Think of camping during a rainstorm, but prolong it for 3 months, day in and day out, in cool weather. Even my camping supplies are nicer than some of his belongings.
As I lay there, I thought about my own selfish tendencies. I remember getting irritated before we left when one of the kids would accidentally bump the knob on the gas hot water heater and my shower would not be very hot, which happened frequently. But after not standing under a real shower for 3 weeks and just having a burning hot or freezing cold trickle to wash off with, like someone turned on a waterhose halfway, I am humbled. Again. And again. And again. And I have it so good here.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. –Phil. 2:1-4
I see the discrepancy between those who have and have not here. I think about the discrepancy between those who have and have not back in America. But, wow, who knew the difference between the two countries? I have seen pictures and been told, but until experiencing it, have not been fully changed. Will I be changed when I go home? If this is how I feel after being here for 3 weeks, how will I feel 3 months from now when I finally arrive home? I don’t have answers.
All I know right now is that even those who are considered “poor” in America have massive abundance compared to the “poor” here. It’s indescribable. I can’t paint an accurate picture for you, no matter how hard I try. I just don’t have the words.
We are visiting programs here that are doing good for the people of Ethiopia. And I would challenge anyone back home to give some stuff up and support programs that would make a huge difference in the life of another. Like, whether they eat tonight or not. Whether they are living on the street or under a roof. Whether they can keep their child or have to give them to an orphanage. YOU can make a difference. Either overseas or back home. You can. It may not seem real to you right now sitting in your nice car reading this on your iphone or lounging in your kitchen at the computer surrounded by a plate of breakfast, but trust me, it’s real.
Proverbs 24:12 say, “Don't excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn't know." For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.”