Our family is leaving India, the place we have called home for almost 10 years. We have struggled continually with seeing poverty, fighting poverty, loving people well that live in poverty, and just having the heaviness that you cannot ignore when it is in your face all the time.
I HATE poverty!
Please hear me right--I do not like poverty. I wish I could end it. I wish I could write a post about how to wisely help fight it and stop it. I wish it was over and done with for forever. But that is beyond my capability. We have fought to do what we can to love on people and help people living in poverty. Please receive the perspective from this post knowing that I do not like poverty!!!
Having said that...Seeing poverty on a regular basis for a long time, I have a different perspective on life, and that is what this post is about.
In the very first days we started processing and thinking through leaving India, my heart began grieving--even before this change was official, I started grieving all the things I love about this wild place, and I started making a list of my favorite things about India. I knew that when time came to leave my mind would shift to helping my children, logistics, packing, and saying goodbyes. I also knew that if we stayed, it would actually benefit me to know all of the wonderful things I love and have a bucket list of things I could continue to do and all the things I get to love about this place!
Right in the middle of these emotional days and list-making days, I was driving by myself and drove by a specific area we see on our way to church--this is an area full of poverty--people are living right on the side of the road. It truly breaks your heart to see the poverty right outside your window...
Mothers picking lice out of their kids hair.
Naked children lying on the ground still sleeping from the night before.
Belongings in piles or strung out all over--it's hard to know what is theirs and what is trash.
Torn tarps stretched over sticks to try to make some sort of shelter.
Make shift fire pit to cook over.
Of course, my heart fills with sorrow on seeing this. Of course, I want to know what in the world to do. Of course, I just hurt for them. Of course, it is ugly and sad and such a horrible thing--poverty.
But, I also experienced feelings that caught me by surprise! As I was in the throughs of making my list of what I would miss about living in South Asia, I added "seeing poverty" to my list of things I would miss about India. Yes, I will miss seeing poverty on a regular basis. Hear me out, please...
Our family has been affected in so many ways by living in a place with poverty all around us. One way we are affected is that seeing poverty sobers your mind about what matters and what doesn't. It gives you a different perspective about needs and wants. It can make you thankful.
I remember a specific time in my mothering when I was struggling and feeling like I wasn't doing "enough" with my kids. We were in Delhi, and a mother walked by with her baby on her hip--she begs all day long at a specific traffic light, and her baby (well, at least this child she is carrying whether it is hers or not) is on her hip begging right along with her.
When you are tempted to think the food you are serving your family isn't healthy enough, you drive by people that have to beg for whatever food they can get or walk a far distance to get water out of a dirty river (that might even make them sick) or wait in line of crowds of people at a well.
All of a sudden, it seems your kids have WAY too many toys when you realize little kids on the side of the road are playing with broken, left over toys their mothers might have found when rummaging through trash to see what they could turn into the recycling guys for mere pennies. Instead of wanting more, you actually begin to give away some of your things to these kids.
The color of the paint on your walls or the beautiful decorations boards you see on Pinterest just don't matter when you see homes outside with no walls of protection from elements, harm, or evil people.
I'm still not sure I'm sharing this perspective clearly, and I fear being misunderstood. What I am trying to say is I am thankful to have a different perspective on life because I've lived in India. I will for sure miss the perspective that India gives me on so many things, and one part of that perspective has been shaped by seeing poverty regularly.