Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Other People Think About Me Is None of My Business

crystalstine.meIt's Day 8 of my 31 Days of Lessons in the Desert series, and I'm linking up with Crystal Stine and company; joining the Behind the Scenes link up. A place to make a connection beyond the Pinterest perfect ideals; to look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

This is one of my lovely Coach bags – bought way back in 2008. I have a thing for green, a thing for bags, and a thing for Coach. I still had this bag in 2010 when I was in my desert times – sometimes an awkward moment: no money for groceries, but I've got this great bag ...

After about twelve weeks of no income – no paycheck, enduring the waiting game with unemployment, squeezing through savings as leanly as possible – we had to start considering other options and looking for other resources.

One of the many things I learned about myself (over and over again) throughout this desert journey was that I was really bad at asking for help. I’d been raised to be self-sufficient and self-reliant and other circumstances in my life had taught me to toughen up and shoulder through hard times no matter what. In my mind, extending a hand for help was the equivalent of giving up and admitting I was too incompetent to get it done myself.

Oddly enough, I loved being able to help other people in my life. I wanted to be the one that friends or family would call on. I never thought less of them when that happened – it was a delight to be able to be of assistance. So why did I think it was different for me?

Being in dire circumstances is never comfortable. It’s never easy to be in a place where you have to extend your hand for help and count on someone with kindness to be there on the other end. Add to that some of the stereotypes and social caricatures that are drawn of people in need, and it’s no wonder people struggle with this.

And then there’s the horrible struggle with pride. That’s a hard thing to write down – even now – but I know part of my struggle with asking for help and the places we wound up asking for help at was purely a matter of me feeling too proud to be there.

The very first time I walked into the local food bank, I felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin. I felt like every car passing on the road was staring at me walk into the building; condemning with their glance, and once inside; felt the cold glance of regulars who looked at my clothes, purse, and accessories – still somewhat fresh from the time of “plenty” with resentment – wondering what I could possibly be doing in their space.

Harder still, was the day I stood up in the sanctuary of my own church to champion our own food drive and food closet and told the story of how the local food bank had been helping our family. From some of the looks I got, I might have well confessed to inappropriate behavior in the baptismal behind the choir.

There were several lessons for me to learn through some of these circumstances – none of them particularly easy.

What other people think about me is none of my business
This one is straight from my mom – and she still likes to remind me of this. My worth isn’t found in the clothes that I wear, or the purses I carry, or the stores that I shop at. And it’s not found in the eyes or the esteem of folks around me. My worth is found simply in the eyes of God, who loved me before the foundation of the world and who found me worthy enough to send His son to die for. Our lives should be lived and unfolded before His eyes and for His estimation alone.
photo by hotblack

Willingness to share the truth of your story may open a door for someone else to do some good
In addition to the looks that made me shiver that Sunday morning as I spoke about the food bank were looks of compassion, dawning understanding, and renewed resolve. Several people spoke to me about how they had no idea that our family was struggling and several of those conversations wound their way through “but you don’t look like you’re in need” (perhaps a lesson in and of itself about stereotypes and what need looks like). These people had their eyes opened about some of the difficulties around them – not just in my life – but in the life of our community, and were resolved to make a difference.

Reduced circumstances gives you understanding so you can be a better helper when you can
Having had to struggle to make ends make; having had to rely on food closets and food banks for some of our; having had to make hard choices about food vs. other necessities helps me to be more compassionate and understanding now that I’m out of the desert and doing better. We’re not living with unrestrained wealth by any means, but we certainly have more means than we did. When we buy food for food closets and food banks, I’m a little choosier about what I take. I used to just try and get the most possible food for my dollar, but to be honest, that doesn’t always get you the most nutritious or the tastiest food. I think back to my own days among the shelves in the church pantry; wondering what would taste better – roasted, pickled peppers or chicken flavored ramen. I still try to get the most possible, but I try to think more along the lines of what I’d actually like to eat instead of just trying to fill the shelves.

Asking for help and going somewhere to receive it does not make you a loser – it makes you brave. It makes you willing. It makes you humble. And in your humility, you have the chance to learn the lesson of the less fortunate and take those lessons out with you when you have regained your footing to make a difference again for those in need.

In an extended reminder to love our neighbor as ourselves, I appreciate these words from St. Teresa of Avila who calls us to His hands and feet here on this earth.

Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.


I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. During the 31 Days Challenge, I'll be using the hashtags #desertjourney and #inspirationalandfaith80 if you'd like to join in or follow along. Let's continue the conversation!

12 comments :

  1. Oh my friend... I love this! The lessons you learned in the desert are so rich - and that you are being all Brave and honest here -it helps us to glean from them too! It's funny - I posted somewhere asking for travel tips and told them that we were on a tight budget... all the tips were lovely and helpful, however it seems only a few understood my definition of a tight budget! ;) People all around us are in need... financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually... we must be willing to have our perspectives shifted so that we can clearly see... and follow through with help! And yes- we must be bold enough to be seen clearly, and receive help too!

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    1. Thank you for your consistent support and encouragement here. On the days where I feel like I'm ripping the scabs off, it's especially helpful. But I hope these words will truly mean something to those who read them here.

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  2. This post is so dead on about how we face situations. As I faced a possible job loss earlier this year I also worried about how others would view me. For years I have worked at the local food bank and I was so unsure how I would face walking through the doors to be a client. Learning to not be concerned with the thoughts of others is a lesson God reteaches me daily. One day I may actually learn it 😄

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    1. Oh Amy - that was even close to home for you - that was courage indeed. And I'm right there with you in feeling like this is a lesson that must be learned and then learned again on a daily basis. Makes me ever so grateful for grace!

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  3. We are three years in to paying off a benevolence loan from our church--which only transpired by a roundabout path because I got emotional during a Thanksgiving service talking about God's provision during a difficult time we were going through. We were close to losing our house and we hadn't mentioned it to anyone (pride, fear, shame). The talk with the pastor about how we'd got to that place was mortifying, as well — although the reasons why were nothing to be ashamed of. Being in a position to need help is so deeply humbling, and more so when help is given with love.

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    1. Yes - doesn't that almost make it harder - when everyone is so kind and loving in the process! Why is that? I'm so glad you share this with me. It makes me feel our hands clasp just a little tighter.

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  4. So beautiful! Truly! Rebekah, your stories, your words and the way you so courageously share those pieces of you that are hard and incredibly vulnerable awaken the bravery in me. It is an honour to read your courage here friend.

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    1. To be honest, it's the prayers in my heart, my desire to follow His leading, and the encouragement of my friends here that keeps me writing! Otherwise there would be no courage! I thank you for your friendship and for helping me to write brave.

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  5. Oh, sweet friend...this is brave and beautiful. Thank you for being willing to share your stories...I know your heart and your words will bless so many. Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Thank you Mel - that is my heart's prayer.

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  6. Totally enlightening. You are an excellent student of the Lord, Rebekah. the hard lessons of the Lord are so worth learning- especially when they help others. Which is what you are doing more and more!

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    1. I appreciate you so much Lauren! Thank you. Praying that I will continue to cling close to Him and follow His plan here - and always.

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Thank you for the kindess of your comment. I pray your patience with the word verification. I've had such troubles with spammers lately. Thank you for grace. I look forward to reading all the comments and responding. I appreciate you!