Last November, in an email conversation completely unrelated to Haiti, I asked my friend Andy what exactly he'd done there, since all I knew was that he'd gone there multiple times. In his response he included these things:
"...we've had opportunities to lead groups of people to Haiti giving them opportunities to experience the culture, meet some of the people and get their hands dirty while helping. We've done construction work at an orphanage, painted a church, held hundreds of kids, led VBS in rural neighborhoods, brought medical supplies and clothing and organized the efforts of child sponsorship."He then ended with "We're all busy in our own careers, so our work with the organization is as volunteers, but it's been an important part of our lives and for me personally it has drastically shaped my view of God and what it means to have enough."
It was that simple italicization of the word "enough" that captured my attention.
Since I was just starting to think about moving and getting everything packed, the idea of stuff was at the forefront of my mind. And, since I am a pack rat, especially when it comes to books (over 800), I have a lot of stuff. I don't intentionally collect more stuff just for the sake of having stuff, but I like reading and decorating and cooking and so I just end up with more. How much is enough? I don't think I'll ever be able to say that I have enough books, that is for sure. There are always more and more being written and I cannot keep up with all the ones that I want to read. I also like owning them because the library would probably frown on me highlighting and writing in their copies.
When I compared all that I have with all that so many people do not have, I felt some guilt. In so many ways, I have more than enough, and so many people have less than enough.
It brings up the question of what is our responsibility to ourselves and to others, as individuals, as the church, as groups of people coming together for a common cause, as a city, as a state, as a country, as the world?
How do we balance out our own desires to put ourselves first with the importance of looking outside of ourselves and our own little world and caring for others in need?
I don't have the answers, and it's probably a good thing that I struggle with this issue. When we cease to struggle with important issues then, I think, we cease to care.
This story is continued in the following posts:
Plant Some Seeds