A Lesson in Need

It is the season for spreading joy throughout the land, right? It is the time for helping those less fortunate—I am all for that—I am all about helping others. It makes your load lighter and creates within you this awesome sense of gratitude and goodwill. Today I received an email from an organization, of which I am involved, that included the following message:

“This year we have adopted two…. families who are in need. We are collecting money as well as gifts. Below are some items we are seeking for these two families..” What you will find following is a condensed (very condensed) list of the items submitted by this needy family. Marsha commentary will be in italics and bold.

On the list were some very reasonable items including: Uno Spin, The Game of Life, earrings, necklace, Old Navy gift card etc.. I have no problem with these items. They are expected to be on the list of someone less fortunate.However, the list didn’t end there. Here are some of the “other” items on the list: Ipod Stereo that fits an Ipod Nano – seriously—they have ipods how horrible life must be since they only have a Nano and not a 30 gig video ipod?; Lion King 1 ½ (DVD full screen) – what happens if I buy the regular screen version; Mario baseball for Gamecube, NGC Pokeman TD gale (game for gamecube) – GAMECUBE are they kiddin’; Silver Ipod Nano – oh, one of them doesn’t have an ipod—ok I am going to stop here except for one other interjection so as not to become too overly sarcastic; Coach, Luis Vuitton or Guess brand purse – sure—let me run out and purchase a $400-$700 purse for the needy – seriously.

When did we get to this point? When did a family in need require an “Epson Stylus Photo R340 Printer”? Could it possibly be that we no longer have a distinguishable line between what we want and what we need? My brother related a story he heard about a father trying to instill the concept of “need” in his son. The son wanted a pair of $100.00 Air Jordan tennis shoes. His father said “Son, I have $40.00. You WANT a pair of Air Jodan shoes. Seems to me you NEED—–$60.00.” Funny as that maybe—it hits the mark. Truth be told, the son didn’t really NEED the shoes at all.

I will confess—I have not had much success instilling within my own children a sense of gratitude for what they are so fortunate to have, but you can bet that is at the top of my Christmas wish list now. I want them to understand the difference between want and need. I wish for them to know that we have far more than most folks in the universe and for that we should be extremely grateful. I also want them to know that there are those TRULY less fortunate who wake up every morning with empty stomachs and wonder where they will sleep for the evening. I want them to understand that in Jesus’s words “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God”. I yearn for them to grasp that it matters very little what we possess, but life’s riches are measured by the relationships we develop and the love we share. For myself, I desire a spirit that truly gets what being poor means and a gracious heart that is content with what I already possess. Living in the land of plenty we lack much in the way of gratitude.

This I know for sure….