The Cycle

This post is from the heart. Deep, deep down in the heart where I come home upset after spending time with my favorite people because I want to give them the world. It comes from the place where I cried in the middle of Target because one of my favorite little girls was about to get a sparkly pink shirt I knew she’d love.

So before I get in to all of that, I’ll start with this.

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Stop it, y’all. Tell your friends stop it. Sure, she’s paying for her groceries with food stamps and her nails are long and beautiful and hot pink and she’s texting her baby daddy on her iPhone. But you don’t know. You don’t know her struggles and she doesn’t know yours.

Think about your life for a minute. What kind of car do you drive? What’s your living situation like? Can you pay for groceries without having a coronary? Do you have a closet full of wearable clothes? Do you go to school? Did you get a college degree? What’s your job like?

Now think about how you got there.

I realize there are exceptions to every rule, so before you refute what I have to say, read on. I live a comfortable, middle class life because of my parents.  I will forever be indebted to them and I am incredibly thankful that I am their daughter. I have a college degree because I grew up knowing I’d go to college, whatever it took. I never missed a meal and I never missed out on anything really, because money wasn’t a problem. Were we rich? Absolutely not. But I had everything I needed.

And unless I come up with some majorly awesome business idea or some rich, twice-removed relative I didn’t know existed dies and gives me all his money, I will likely remain in this same socioeconomic class.

I grew up middle class; it’s likely I’ll stay that way. The same usually goes for those in poverty. The young woman who wrote this article knows the cycle all too well.

“I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It’s not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances…There’s a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there’s money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.”

This part of the article really struck me. I have had the enormous blessing of mentoring a group of siblings in a housing project who have given me more perspective on life than I ever thought possible. This explains why their clothes are tattered and they haven’t had breakfast, but they just got done playing the Wii before they hopped in the car with me. It explains why the youngest was dressed for church in sandals in 40-degree weather and how she explained to us in December that Santa doesn’t come to her house.

I’m not telling you this so you’ll go give your life savings to the poor. I’m telling you this because if you’ve ever echoed the sarcastic complaint on that ecard, it’s utterly important to me that you see the world from another perspective.

And thank you, thank you, thank you to my family who gave my little friends the most wonderful Christmas and to my husband who helps me lug the critters to church every week.

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