Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Christmas Guilt?

I have struggled off and on with Christmas guilt ever since we started our adoption journey to bring Grace home in October 2004. The more I learned of the realities of so many people around the world, the more guilty I felt for that silly CD I just HAD to have; and the book, and the sweater. After we returned from Ethiopia, I regularly looked around the house we are blessed with, and felt a certain sense of disdain for our spoiled nature. How could I have peace in this house after seeing so many people living on the streets; begging and starving. We even saw a dead, naked man that everyone was simply walking around. Why wasn't I hearing about these things as the lead story on the news every night? How could human life be so worthless.

Eventually, I came to the understanding that it is OK to be blessed. God didn't do that by accident. However, I can NEVER live a life of complacency again. Even if these stories aren't plastered on the front page of every newspaper, I know. I've seen children sing and dance in thanks for the gift of 1 Birr (worth about 8 cents when we were there). I learned that it is important to have left-overs boxed up at the end of a meal because there will always be a beggar that needs them before I can get back to my hotel room. The world may turn a blind eye to these tragedies, but I can't. My daughter is one of millions of children in the world that deserve to have a family to love them; and I need to do whatever I can to make that happen.

My efforts are often rather small. We don't have extra money in our bank account to send cash off to all the worthy organizations that could do good with it; but we do have family and friends that have been inspired by our adoption story, and have made their own contributions. I am awfully busy with six kids living in my house, but the kids' grandparents have put in time and effort to make sure that some great things to bring awareness and cold hard cash to the adoption cause happen. So, now as we walk through another Holiday season, I don't feel the guilt. I am doing the part that is mine for now. I am advocating, and lovingly raising children with the knowledge that there is a great big world out there, and they are going to need to give back for all that they have been blessed with.

My old friend, Eileen, left me a link for this video in my "We are the World" comments. It is a good reminder to all of us that this isn't a new issue (the 80's hair-dos kind of give it away). The world still needs us, and that means in whatever capacity we can muster up. If everyone did a little bit, we would live on a very different planet.


JourneytoFamily said...

It's good to appreciate the blessings we have and not feel guilty but at the same time not be complacent. It's definitely a balance! Though I don't think anyone who has seen what we have seen with our own eyes can get complacent. At least I hope not!

Jennifer said...

I have been struggling with this too! I can't imagine the dead body that would have pushed me over the edge I think!

I have been looking through our pictures from India....wondering and wanting to go back and back a difference. How? That part I am not sure!!


MP2 said...

Wow - the hair!

shane said...

It's always, I think, a good thing to remember, at least for those of Christian faith, that 'blessing' is not equivalent to money and stuff.

Indeed, a quick look at the words of Jesus, a guy who some of us think highly of, will remind us that those he includes in his list of "the blessed," are "the poor, the hungry, the peacemakers, the grieving, the persecuted, etc.".

Which isn't an attempt to add more Christmas guilt, something I too feel, but a reminder that the One who blesses has different priorities than our American, "get more stuff," culture. Your story speaks to that with a profound grace.


shane said...

Let me amend that last comment to read: "those parts of our American culture that endlessly preach 'get more stuff'".

Other aspects of our culture, namely the belief that each of us deserves a voice in our public priorities, are certainly worth celebrating, even as we remain critical of forces that lead to less constructive modes of individual and community activity.


Christy said...

I agree, if we simply started by loving the person next to us in church or our neighbor it would be an entirly different world. Something to think about for sure. It starts in our own homes and reaches as far as Gods hands can reach.

Anonymous said...

This is a SHAME BAND history will remember it as one of the worst dark events human being have ever made against one another. It was pure political in order to humiliate Ethiopia which was/is and will be the symbol of Africa with her long and rich history.

How much money did they collect and how it did reach to the victims is still remaining as a big question to be answered. It was about 10 million USD, which is less than a yearly income to one of the singers. Singing and dancing in the name of the weak and hungry is something not from healthy human being but evils.

Do we know how much money and human power US or UK are spending in Iraq of Afghanistan per hour everyday for the past few years? Are those singers are singing together every day all days about it? No. Instead they are protesting, while feeling proud and privileged singing and dancing in front of the world in the name of the weak and hungry people pretending to help them. Funny.

Christianity is accepted as a sate religion in Ethiopia in 333AD. Yet those singers and organisers many of them are not believers did sing about the materially weak but spiritually rich Ethiopians with the Title saying, “Do they know it is Christmas.” O God, Let them be what they think can be (most of the time with evil mind), but you are the answer.