May 11, 2013

5.1 // I am poor

// Confession: I am poor.

I think I'm finally ready to talk about it. I've been putting it off for some time now, as I do when I want to avoid the things that challenge.

I am an Americorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America). VISTA provides full-time members to nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations, and public agencies to create and expand programs that bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty. AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year.

I work for an amazing nonprofit, The Advancement Foundation, coordinating PR, marketing, and events.  I love my job, and I am learning so much. But it's more than expanding a resume. As a VISTA, I have signed up to live at the poverty level of the community I am serving. I gave up more than just money too; I left behind my family, friends, and my community, not to mention jumping up a few states. Having been here 6 months, it has started to take its toll.

Work has always been a part of my life, the 40+ hours a week isn't the issue. I have never had a lot of money, but I have always worked hard to live comfortably. 

Until now. This is not comfortable. It's more like wearing fleece pajamas at the beach, or having the chicken pox without calamine lotion. Being poor is hard.

There are so many politically charged debates about poverty and so many misguided views. I can say with confidence after becoming friends with so many struggling to make it--and as someone who is struggling herself, that you have no idea until you live it.  As I find myself praying for miracles financially, I really understand the difficulties that come with this life.

The highs of triumph are so quickly overshadowed by the lows of your phone getting shut off and the late fees that come with your partially paid bills. There is little joy in those lows--it's a feeling so hopeless it makes you want to give up and run away from it all. I get it now. Living it opens your eyes to how hard it actually is.

These days I spend most of my time on my knees, not asking for God to make this any easier but for Him to give me the strength to endure it and the wisdom to learn from it.

This experience has gifted me with so much already. The job experience is great, but nothing compares to what this journey is doing for my heart. I am humbled. I am seeing more of who I am without all of the worldly fluff to keep me happy and it's not pretty. I am so wrong about so many thing. My faith is challenged daily.

I am being stripped of everything. And yet in having nothing, I feel as though God is giving me everything (2 Cor 6). He continues to love and bless me despite my lack of belief, my fear, anger or discontentment. He is faithful. As my beautiful roommate prayed today, it isn't a characteristic of is who He is.

A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. - 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (MSG)

I don't want money. Jesus, You are enough.//