The question caught me by surprise. I cocked my head and looked at Andrew. How should I respond? Am I rich?
“Now, don’t play wit me. Answer me straight. I know you rich.”
I haven’t been able to escape this question since it was asked me. Everywhere I go, everything I do, every way I spend my money- this question rings in my mind.
The conclusion to which I’ve come, time and time again since that moment, was this: I am a rich little white girl going to a school full of rich little white kids taking for granted all of the privileges and blessings that I have.
There were days, years ago, when I would not have been able to see how rich I was. “My parents are missionaries,” I told myself. “Their salary is beneath the poverty line in the United States!” Desipite my parents’ meager salary, I never wanted for anything. I was always well fed, well clothed, and housed. I’ve never lived in a drafty house without heat. I’ve never played barefoot in the street during the winter because my only pair of shoes blistered my sock-less feet. I’ve never experienced the instability of unemployed parents or suffered the consequences of illness without insurance.
Now, back in the States, attending university, I see more clearly than ever how rich I am. Am I thankful? Yes. Am I proud? Not at all. In fact, I am ashamed.
You see, I have friends who have nothing. Literally, nothing. No photographs of their family that has died, no stability, no chance at education, no idea when they will get their next meal, no cash in their pocket, no cell phone to use in case of emergency, no vehicle to drive, no home of their own.
And here sit I. Surrounded by my trappings in a warm dorm room with a box of quarters for laundry and an ID card representing my meal plan, with shelves of books worth hundreds of dollars, a computer not worth the money I spent on it- the money I spent on it not worth the jobs I did to earn it, at least not where my friends live. I have a closet full of clothes, two coats, three scarves, six hats, a drawer full of socks, and nine pairs of shoes. A guitar, a new cell phone, a box of DVDs, and a car. I’ve a bed with a real mattress, sheets, and a pillow. I even have a scooter to get me around campus faster.
I am rich.
I hear people preach simplicity. Part of me, in my shame, longs for this simplicity. Yet part of me clings to my empire.
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus, what does it mean to be poor in spirit? I must know!
Teach me, Lord!