He flew half-way around the world to be our guest. Several times, we have been his - slept in his daughters' room and eaten rice at his plastic table, fanned our sweaty faces on his front porch, and loved on the people he loves.
It's strange when the tables are turned though. Now he is our guest. Now, we are comfortable and he is out of his element. Now he is asking us the why and how and when of life in a foreign culture, and some of our answers don't translate well. Not just because of language, but because there's just no context for some things.
What is this ice cream good for?
Why do people have horses?
What is this diabetes?
They are not condemning questions when they leave his mouth, but they can sure sink into your heart that way.
I fumbled for an explanation about ice cream - calcium, you know? The horses left us with more questions, and diabetes led us loosely back to the ice cream.
Defensively, I wanted to ask what plates piled high with white rice were good for. I guess the ice cream question hit me in the heart a little. The snobbish inner-me had to acknowledge that there really was no value in ice cream, and white rice filled bellies that were actually, truly, hungry.
I held back justification for a lifestyle filled with blessings, wealth, senseless pleasures, and the consequences of it all. We are a blessed nation, no matter how you view politics or religion or freedom.
We ought to enjoy our ice cream (in moderation) and give thanks to God for it - because it's really only good for that one thing.
All our frills and thrills are only good for embellishing these temples - all of us a living house of God - with praise. We have this spilling over of great and unnecessary blessings. If we enjoy our treats and wipe our mouths hastily, only so we can move to the next delicacy before our bellies fill, we are profaning the temple with unthankfulness.
At home our friend will pile his plate with his rice and give thanks. He will eat his morsels that would turn (or burn) our stomachs and his heart will fill with praise because he missed those comfort foods. He missed the comforts of his place of blessing.
Some days, he won't fill his plate. He'll take less because there is less to take but there is enough to be thankful for, for him and his family and the young people he is training up to change his country for Christ.
He acknowledges that he, too, is blessed.
Tsh from the Art of Simple has written a memoir of her family's journey through similar questions - the weight of blessings and the responsibility of living privileged, without living spoiled. It's her story of life oversees, life in the states, and how to slow down the frenetic pace that comes with citizenship in the U.S.
...the beautiful thing about living a slower, richer life is that you can impact others in the most surprising ways. You may have more wiggle room in your bank account to support a nonprofit doing amazing things, or when you hear of a friend in need, you can quietly slip some folded cash under her door. But a slower life could also mean picking up a figurative (or literal) plow and tilling the fields where your help is desperately needed, taking time out each year to serve in a part of the world that could change both your family and a slice of humanity for the better. It may mean supporting local farmers whose businesses would otherwise fold. It could mean choosing not to turn a naive eye away from the starving and the bought-and-sold around the world because you’re spending your time reading a book that reveals what’s really going on outside your door, instead of who’s being cut from the latest reality show. Or it could even mean simply cultivating a home life so that one of your children grows up to do something utterly remarkable and selfless because she is keenly aware of how blessed she really is. " - Notes from a Blue Bike, Tsh Oxenreider
Tsh shares the beauty of finding balance and living with world-eyes beautifully, by exploring what a slower life looks like in regards to food, work, education, travel, and entertainment. It's about living a simpler life so that we have margin left for giving and serving a bigger world.
Because eating less ice cream doesn't make a difference in this world. Taking a smaller portion so that we can give a greater one - that's what changes things.
How do you feel about the ice cream question? And how do you live responsibly with the blessings God gives?
This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.