I’m not sure how poor is poor – but I think I grew up poor.
There were seven of us kids plus my mom and dad – nine total.
I remember the hamburgers. I didn’t like the way they tasted – stuff with oatmeal to make the meat go further.
I remember kidney beans used as a filler in numerous dishes.
I remember a single can of fruit being divided among us all.
I remember a bedroom with no heat…wearing coats inside and then piling the blankets on as well to keep warm.
Don’t get me wrong – I had clothes, I never went hungry, I had a home, and so on.
I was poor by some standards – but well-off by other standards.
I remember being told that we didn’t take money from the government. Welfare, food stamps – those weren’t acceptable. We would make our own way.
I don’t want to make a political statement – all I want to express is my subjective feelings looking back in my latter teenage years and as an adult. I feel angry and sad. Why? Because we didn’t have to stuff our hamburgers with oatmeal, share a single can of fruit, keep the heat dialed back to insanely low temperatures, or use kidney beans as fillers in everything…
But we wouldn’t take a handout so we did without…which resulted not only in the shoe-string budget but also in anger and stress as emotions flared when our limited resources ran dry.
What did I learn from this? “Don’t take the hard road when you don’t have to…there is no shame in taking assistance that is available to you…”
If I found myself in the position of needing to take welfare or food stamps – I would. I don’t want to – but if it came to it – I would.
I remember once when Charity and I where first married that we ran out of money and didn’t have enough food to eat – so we went to a food pantry…and I remember elderly men in the church slipping $20 into my hand on the occasional Sunday and encouraging to take that pretty young lady out to eat…and the occasional envelope which popped under the door with some cash inside…
Most of Charity and I’s furniture for the first several years of our marriage was salvaged from dumpsters – including our dining room table and chairs.
Would you believe we started out in my childhood twin bed? Yes, both of us, in a twin bed. Don’t as me how we ever did it. Best I can remember, Charity slept on top of me.
But I’m getting off track…
The point is, I have this deeply ingrained message, “Take the help that is available to you. Don’t be ashamed of it.” I’ve always liked helping others – who am I to reject help from others?
Which brings me to the present. Charity and I made a decision, a very difficult decision, and it oftentimes seems like we are taking the hard road. This seems counter-intuitive since our decision is usually considered the easy way out – but for us, in our circumstances – it is a hard, hard road.
So, the question gnaws at me, “Are you taking the hard road when you don’t need to?”
I won’t write off that God could say, “Yes you are, now stop it!” at some juncture – but thus far, the hard road seems the right road.
It is inherently a hard road, but hard roads are complicated tremendously when others don’t understand or agree with the road you have chosen. It is tempting to say, “just kidding” and veer off the hard road…but now I’m just rambling…