“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.“ Acts 3:6
My son told me a story once. He was showing a friend some pictures of when he was a kid. Emilio said, “See we were ghetto poor.” His friend looked at him, then at the picture and back at him, “That’s not ghetto poor, that’s third world poor.” We all laughed when he told us that story. I laughed for awhile until the tsunami of mother guilt swept over me.
I don’t know about others, but I feel guilty a lot. I feel guilty the most about the things my kids went without. Fancy things definitely, but, at times, even the essentials like plenty of food. Third world poor may not be far from the truth. We moved to San Pablo into a one bedroom bungalow. The four kids shared a bed in the little bedroom while their dad, the new baby and I slept on a sofa bed in the living room. It didn’t seem so bad at the time. They were little. But they grew, the family grew and what little we had was stretched way too thin. I could have done more to provide for them. They are not ungrateful to feel deprived. Times were tough.
I wish I gave them more, but like Peter, and even now, silver and gold have I none, but….
I hope to give them something though, some intangibles that I truly believe are far more important than silver and gold. Things I didn’t need money to buy. Happily many things came our way serendipitously, and I tried to underscore those moments of providence.
I hope they will always remember when we didn’t have enough money for our homeschooling books and a local Christian school gave us all their used PACE’s. We had a van full of them, we just erased them and reused them. I hope they remember the time when I was worried about not having enough bread for lunch and Mr. Gracias appeared at the fence with a bag full of breads from the senior center. (That happened a lot.) I hope they will always remember how God opened the door for us to leave our house in San Pablo and spend three great years in El Sobrante without having any wants.
I hope to have somehow shown them an authentic Christian life. I hope both my humanity and my faith have been visible to them through this fragile earthen vessel. I hope that my life, far more than my words, has borne witness to the living God. And from that, I hope and pray, they rise up and walk in Christ.
Finally, I hope that their pasts will not cripple or hinder them in their lives. I hope they can glean compassion, gratitude, peace and contentment through the things they’ve lacked. I hope they will have compassion on the untold masses of people in other lands that go without far more than we did. I hope they will have gratitude for all that comes their way either through hard work or simple providence. I hope they will have peace, that no lasting bitterness or hatred will take root in their hearts. And, I hope they will always be content with what they have. So often we pine for things we don’t have only to miss the opportunity of gratitude and joy for those things we do. So many of these lessons I’ve learned later in life, I hope they learn them too and when they look back to their “third world poor” childhood, I hope they find some other world nuggets of joy, gratitude, faith and wonder amidst their memories.
“All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.”