Monday, March 10, 2014

my grownup birthday list

If you've seen the movie Despicable Me, my favorite scene is when the littlest girl says, "It's sooo fluffy!!!" If you haven't seen it, take a peek:

So cute, right??  The fluffy stuff makes me smile.  But here's the thing:  It can't all be feel-good, fluffy stuff, & I'm giving fair warning that the fluff stops here on this post.
I've been reading a lot of opinions to the tune of, "We need to take care of our own" with regard to helping those outside the borders of the United States.  I even had a neighbor once say to me, "Oh, my husband would never adopt a child from another country.  He thinks we should take care of our own".  This line of thinking makes me want to vomit.  And if you're thinking of checking out at this point because you think this is a pro-adoption, everybody-should-do-it gig, hang's not.
Let me backtrack for a moment.  Joe attended K'Tyo's school conference last week.  His teacher immediately shared a story from the week before.  Their current unit of study discusses wants vs. needs.  As a class, they had a discussion about the difference between the two.  A few days later, they revisited the topic as a refresher, but K'Tyo was adamant that food, water, & shelter were wants.  His teacher confessed that she was becoming a bit frustrated with him since they had just discussed this a couple days before, so she said, "K'Tyo, why are you saying that when we just went over this?"  His response:
"Because in Ethiopia, everyone wants those things, but not everyone has them."
My son was born in Ethiopia.  I was born in the United States of America.  My son knows poverty, illness, hunger, & unclean water.  I know abundance, available health care, three meals a day plus snacks, & the water in my toilet is cleaner than what he had access to.  I have no idea why I was born here & why he was born there, but God brought our worlds together into one.  Our adopting him was not an act of charity, but an act of love.  And when people meet him, they can't help but love him, too.  Even the ones that are of the opinion that we should take care of our own love him because now it can be justified that he is one of us, right?  Well, yes he is one of us.  But I am now also one of them.  My son has brought this simple truth into reality:  We are ALL brothers & sisters, neighbors, family.
The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
I am not a biblical scholar, but I have yet to find scripture that says, "Okay, folks, here's the deal:  I have divided the world up & you are each to take care of your own."  Am I missing it?  I don't think so.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (New International Version)

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”  29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

People, I see a period at the end of that sentence.  I do not see a continuation that says, "...if they are your own, if they look like you, if they think like you, if..."

Are there people in this country that need help? You'd better believe it, & I am not for one minute saying to forget that!  However, are you telling me that people are more or less worthy of our love & mercy just because we may or may not have been born in the same part of the world?


I've heard the argument, "I just don't think I could do what you do."  Ok, then don't!  But for goodness' sake, DO something.  Work at a soup kitchen? Awesome.  Sponsor a child?  Fantastic.  Support an organization that drills wells for clean water?  Super.  Anonymously donate blessings for backpacks to help children avoid hunger on the weekends?  Beautiful.  Spend time with the lonely? You bet. Teach underprivileged children here or in another country? Cool.  Open an orphanage for kiddos with HIV? Amazing!  Organize brigades to other countries to give help? Absolutely!  Be a support to others through prayer & finances to be the hands & feet of Jesus? Yes, Yes, Yes!!  Obviously, this is not even close to being a comprehensive list, but the point is there is a position for EVERYONE on this team of humanity.  There is no one first or last to be picked because every person matters with what they can do to make a difference in this world, & every person in this world is worthy of love & caring.  Yes, there are evil people in this world, both here & "there", but we cannot judge whole populations on them.  The bottom line is there are people sick, lonely, hungry, & dying, which is just not okay.  And honestly, there are times that even the "bad guys" become world changers for good just because someone took the time & had the courage to love & guide them.
Have you heard Amy Grant's "Grownup Christmas List"?  Well, today is my birthday, & I have a grownup birthday list:  No more division, no more hunger, no more unclean water, no more disease/cancer, no more children without families, no more people living in the streets, no more bullying, no more lots of things.  The needs in this world can be overwhelming to the point that we feel paralyzed.  I realize that I can't do everything or help everyone, but I can do something, one something at a time.  In different seasons of my life & yours, we will be passionate & able to do different somethings in different places, but it all matters because all people matter.  The biggest wish on my grownup birthday list would be that we would all begin being good neighbors,  putting our somethings together to make the world a better place.
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~Gandhi


Karen said...

Well said!

Sharon said...

Love this, Dardi. Just had a conversation about this very thing (taking care of our own) a couple weeks ago with some family members. I was sadly surprised how quickly the conversation stopped when I voiced some of my thoughts. So well said.

Connie Johnson said...

Beautiful post, friend!!!