We all go through our days taking little things for granted. It’s not unusual, it’s not selfish, it’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
Most people don’t notice how fortunate they are until something breaks or needs to be replaced. If you’re blessed, you simply add an errand to your week and go pick up whatever it was that broke. But not everyone has that luxury. And it’s when you take that for granted, that you may need to be reminded of how blessed you really are.
For some people the toaster that broke yesterday can’t be replaced. There’s no such thing as having an extra $20 to pick up a new cheap toaster at the local discount store. Even that $5 toaster at the local Good Will store is out of reach. That $5 maybe all they have in the world right now, and it’s needed for milk and bread to feed their child. There is no such thing as an “extra” anything to waste on something they don’t absolutely need.
It’s amazing how many times I hear about conversations like this text message on the right. It seems when someone is struggling through every day life, even those around them don’t truly understand what they’re going through. Until they talk about little things that they take for granted.
This conversation is a real event that happened between two sisters. One who knows her younger sister is going through tough times. But she obviously doesn’t really understand what that means. Not until they talk about something as simple as finding a sale at the grocery store on frozen waffles. Imagine how a waffle might provide an opportunity for you to look at your life differently.
If your toaster broke, could you simply replace it with ease? Would you have to put it on a list until the next paycheck? Or would you have to go without and make do with what you have? A lot of people today are making do and you may not even realize how bad off things really are for them. It’s not like there’s a sign they wear on their sleeves for you to see.
Many people who were middle class families working every day and making ends meet don’t openly complain about what they don’t have or can’t do. When the recession hit and they “fell on hard times”, a light was on their struggle in the news and it was common knowledge. But many families have continued to struggle since 2007 when the recession began. They haven’t recovered yet, regardless of how hard they maybe trying. And don’t be fooled by the political rhetoric about families getting used to living off the government. Many of these families are trying very hard to recover their pride and ability to care for their families. And as aid is cut more and more, they struggle and fall behind farther and farther.
Most people don’t notice these families because those struggling are not used to being in these situations. They have worked all their lives, have pride in what they accomplished and they’ve never been exposed to needing help before. In some states, they don’t even qualify for government aid, because they still own a house. Amazing how someone can be starving inside their home and you’d never know it. But you might be surprised at how many people/families I know in this situation around the entire country and around the world really.
A lot of people try to help their friends by letting them in on events where free food is being offered. That’s a wonderful way to share, but make sure you consider the cost of gas it takes the family to get there. They may not have it. Or they have to make a choice between an extra unexpected trip for free food, or one more trip to a job and home again. If you had to make that choice, which would you select? Sadly not showing up at a job might mean even more hardship and they have to turn down the free meal.
I’ve heard conversations that go like this:
“The school is having spirit night at Dairy Queen, come on down and let me buy you guys some ice cream”. The kids light up with a smile and sparkle in their eyes with excitement. Then imagine a parent having to say “Thank you very much, but we don’t have the gas to get there and back.” Now that family walks away with a child who has been disappointed yet again because the family can’t afford your generosity. And who becomes the bad guy? Not you, but their Mom or Dad, or both. Back at home, it’s not only the child who’s crying, but the parents who can’t even do one simple nice thing for their kid and it hurts them as much as it pains the kids.
It’s not the offer to help that makes you a compassionate and caring person. It’s how you think that help through and how you make the offer that may make the biggest difference in someone’s life. Ask yourself am I doing this for me? Is it for the expectation of being the hero or for the accolades I expect to receive in return? If your reason for helping is about what you will get out of the situation, you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.
Everyone goes through life taking something for granted. Things that cost a little bit of extra cash, to big things that have no price tag at all. The love of a parent, the companionship of a best friend, the trust of a partner, the security or sense of safety from having a warm home to retreat to. There are many things, tangible and intangible that we often assume will always be there. Until the day they’re not there.
Don’t take the little things in your life for granted. Someone out there may be wishing and praying they had your worst day to live through. Because even the worst thing you’re facing today may still be a whole lot better than what they face on a day-to-day basis.
© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.