While dropping boxes of noodles and canned goods into the donation box marked “Feed the Hungry” a little boy assisting his mom asked, “Mommy is this for poor people?”
As a parent, how would you answer this question? A simple yes is correct especially given that the state of being poor is generally considered to be lacking the funds to support one’s self. However, what does this little boy, who may never have experienced hunger or the challenge to stay warm at night, really think being poor means? Does he think that everyone who is poor now has always been poor? What do the faces of the poor look like? Would his perception of the word poor change if he knew the little boy he plays with across the street is getting help from a local food pantry? Unless he has spent time with people lacking financial means he might conjure up an image of citizens who cannot do tasks themselves, or he might even be a bit fearful of the mystery. If we wanted to take the time and explain the concept of poor to the little boy, we might ask him “Can poor people be poor but be rich too?”
There are many blessings to be counted: we see them all the time in the families that visit the Come to me Food Pantry.
What about having a wealth of love and support at home? Psychological professionals have noted that a healthy home is a safe refuge after a long, laborious day. It should be a sanctuary where you are fully accepted and therefore, you may speak freely about the good and bad happenings of your day. Most importantly, home is a place where you can be appreciated for you. In the food pantry, we frequently hear stories about the patience a husband or wife has maintained with one another during difficult times. We see how awesome they are with their children, even though the stresses are heavy. On a daily basis, being rich in love and support can mean a person has a safe place to land after a long day: they can show vulnerabilities and receive support. A loving family can significantly contribute to one’s daily quality of life.
Adding to this, we see long term situations and financial difficulty due to critical illnesses. For example, we see one partner quitting their job to stay home and care for family members with severe illnesses. With these long term situations, we see that they love each other and know they are making the right decision. Most importantly, these families never complain; they accept their chosen path with a plethora of courage.
Also, what about being rich with a good sense of humor? During rough times, this person can not only laugh at oneself for having done something stupid, but they can make other family members and friends laugh at their own mistakes too. Maybe, the person with the big sense of humor is rich with the world. We are able to not only empathize with their families, but we laugh with them too.
What about being rich with values and integrity? We occasionally hear in the news of a financially troubled individual who turned over to the authorities, the envelope full of cash he found in a parking lot. Chances are, he feels pride instead of guilt, knowing he knows he acted out of honestly, and was concerned about the loss of the other person. Maybe this is why he is sometimes hungry; however, the spark in his eyes is there because integrity prevailed.
Of course, the big one is rich in faith. We see this often in the food pantry and these are the people that carry a strong trust in God. They truly believe they are being heard by God the Father through prayer. This trust allows confidence and peace to prosper through the difficult journey they know they are strong enough to handle. It is amazing how big and bright a person’s can smile be, even during the most difficult times, when they trust in God.
Sometimes, people rich in money, cannot smile.
Lead Advocate, Fishers UMC Food Pantry