Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Impaired Perspective.

A few weeks ago, we followed our "Sunday Dinner out" ritual as usual. That day we invited the children's paternal grandmother to come along, so we chose an easy lunch option that seemed to placate the kids and Grandma Gertie at the same time.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Pizza Hut we go.

We walked in and ordered the buffet. Seth and I took turns getting the kids' plates. The restaurant was filling up due to the Sunday crowd, and the cooks were having a hard time keeping up. I ordered a salad and waited. Seth went up to get his own plate and came back fuming.
"There's a family being very hateful to the workers. They keep complaining about the amount of food on the buffet! They just came from church, too."

I lost my appetite right then.

I don't know what I was more angry about: the fact that they were giving Jesus some seriously bad PR (and that's a whole different post--Part 2 perhaps?) or that they were complaining about an opportunity most of the people in this world will never experience.

I have had many chances to meet people in the Third World, and I have learned that daily experiences for us are truly the stuff that dreams are made of for my friends in other places. A buffet where you can eat until you're full?

They wouldn't even know what full feels like.

The reality is that some little boy or girl somewhere is thinking, "If I had one wish, I would wish to eat until I was stuffed from a table filled with anything I could imagine."

Around these parts, we don't dream about it. We just head to the Golden Corral where they are now serving Cotton Candy and a chocolate fountain.

A restaurant where someone comes to let you CHOOSE what YOU want to eat and then brings it to you?
I've met children who have to rise early only to walk all over a smelly dump trying to scavenge for enough scraps to pacify the raging hunger in their bellies for a few more hours. Sometimes what they find to eat makes them sick because it is old, hot, and spoiled. It's a smelly place, a place I struggled visiting for a few hours, and there are families who rustle through it daily to provide something for their children.
Digging through trash heaps. Looking for scraps.

While people here complain about the buffet (a place that has food and you can eat until you're past full) lacking Hawaiian pizza. And send their food back if it isn't correct. Something is wrong here. Very, very wrong. Those of us surrounded by opulence and luxury in the first world are struggling from a condition Jen Hatmaker, writer of the book I've been reading, calls impaired perspective.

That book told me if my family makes 35,000 a year, we are some of the richest people in the world. The top 4% of the world to be exact. 50,000? Top 1%. Dr. Wess Stafford wrote in his book Too Small To Ignore that every year Americans spend more for GARBAGE BAGS than 90 of the world’s 210 countries spend for…EVERYTHING. 
Not to mention what we buy that ends up in those bags.

A wise man, SpiderMan's Uncle Ben (Thanks Matt!) once said "With great power comes great responsibility." We have more than enough. Many die daily because of lack. We are often a little too comfy at the table of the Lord, and frankly, a little too unwilling to share the incredible resources we have been given.

You have two choices right now: walk away feeling guilty by what you have read here or walk away feeling extreme gratitude.  Guilt is not a good motivator for change, but gratitude is.  When we realize how deeply we have been blessed, our perspective shifts.  It's no longer impaired or blinded.  It allows us to see how much we have really been given, and how much we TRULY have to share. 

The only time privilege becomes a sin is when we cling too tightly to it and forget that it all comes from Him and we don't share it. 

Praise God if you have what you need and then with the next breath, decide how you will affect change for someone who doesn't.  Can I change someone else's life with the change I use to buy that drink at the gas station every day?  Yes YesYesYes

Snuggling with Sarah, my precious sponsored child, back in 2008
Too many of us have used the excuse that we are barely getting by. For most of us, that's not only an excuse, but an outright lie. Let's face it, the majority of us have everything we need and MOST of what we want.  What will we do with it?

I hope this post drives us all to action, but at the very least, may it help us all bite our tongues when we are tempted to complain in the middle of the buffet line.  

My prayer for all of us is this:
Lord, give us your perspective.  In your grace, reveal to us when we are closest to the poor we are also closest to You.  Empower us to say no to some things we want so that others can have what they need.  Amen
I love you, friends.
Please enjoy and be challenged by this song.  By these words.  


Heather said...

Good gosh Lauren... Another blog that brought me to tears. I feel the same. Things in our society have been completely skewed as far as perspective goes. Keep hitting the tough subjects. Beautiful writing too - I feel maybe you've been called to author some amazing works, my dear friend.

Anonymous said...

Ok first WOW I'm not only super guilty but blessed as well and this just answered a struggle I've been dealing with personally It's something I've known I should be doing instead of other things but lets call this the kick in the pants I needed to get my head straight THANKS
And by the way it was spider mans uncle Ben who said "with great power comes great responsibility" lol

Ashley Lynne said...

I will have to say Voltaire is actually credited with that quote first.

But all nuances aside, thank you for sharing this, Lauren. I am so guilty of the cry for more. There are so many days when I am convinced I would do better to lose everything and have Him only. This world is not my home. And I'm so thankful that this is the closest to hell I will ever see and pray daily that my heart be broken for those living as close to heaven as they will ever get without Jesus.