If you had told me yesterday that my standard of living is ridiculously high, I would have laughed in your face. True, it’s hard to stay grounded and humble when you’ve been without electricity for 30 hours, reading to your kids and tucking them in by flash light, taking cold showers, and standing by while all of the milk, meat, and produce rot in the fridge. Do you know what a headache you can get from playing solitaire (with actual cards) by candlelight? I do.
The truth is, I felt very inconvenienced by the whole episode. We’re already living like Amish, I thought, with our utter lack of modern domestics. We’ve been TV, Ipod, and video game free for about a month now. But without electricity we had achieved near Caveman status. I have to admit, I was pissed-off for being put upon in such a way. When the lights finally blinked back into existence I was so relieved that I could FINALLY get back to life the way it should be – easy!
This morning, I met shame head on as I stepped out of the car in an area known as Las Cuadras. Basically, it’s the ghetto. It’s where thousands of people live crammed together in tin shack after tin shack. The muddy paths are lined on both sided by streams of sewage, food is scarce, and electricity is hard to come by. Every tiny, one room shanty could house a family of 6 or 7, plus dogs. The women sweep the dirt floors and cover the open doorways with sheets. There are often no windows, bathrooms, or even kitchens.
We, myself and 4 others, had come to help David, a young Costa Rican, to run a ministry for the children this morning. We played games, told a Bible story, and did a little craft with them. Of course the kids were adorable – so cute I wanted to sneak them out in my pockets. Take them away from their hard, dark, hungry little lives. I imagined for a minute what it would be like to bring these kids to my house. To walk them through the door, ushering them into the kitchen (which is bigger than many of their houses) to offer them a cold drink out of the full fridge, or a snack off the pantry shelf.
How stinkin’ rich would they think I am?
Even without electricity, my house is like a castle compared to the scrap metal walls and fiberglass roofs of the houses in Las Cuadras. Here I am, worried about getting too fat because I eat TOO MUGH. I complain that I am sick of my clothes when much of my closet sits untouched. And God help you if you shut off my electricity – I’ll curse the day you were born! Because “I shouldn’t have to live like this!”. But…..apparently….it’s okay if thousands of my neighbors live like that.
Wow. I’ve never felt like a bigger turd. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that God is gently (and occasionally not so gently) teaching me to look at life in a different way, challenging me to redevelop my system of values. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with living on a dirt floor. But there is something wrong with thinking that I am somehow above it.
I can’t wait to return next week to play with and talk to the kids. I have so much to learn from them.
ps. two blogs in one week! are you proud of me? 😉