Family Blessings, Part II

29 November, 2009

Boy on a fence, Mbabane, Swaziland, 2005.

Boy on a fence. Mbabane, Swaziland. 2005.

With this photo it would be all too easy to focus on the obvious, the common thread of the oft used mission-oriented challenge of how much need there is in the world. Of course all of that would be true, a legitimate call to action. However, that too easily lets us off the hook. This is one of those opportunities to self-assess, some healthy reflexive critiquing.

Look at this image, not in terms of the lack or the need shown concerning this family, but as a counterpoint to the abundance in our own lives. What is the minimum we need to be happy? In these past months many people have suffered loss of possessions, homes, cars, an alteration/disruption of a lifestyle. I don’t mean to belittle the pain associated with such loss, that pain is real. Then I look at this family. Their possessions can quite literally be seen in the photo. There were no toys in the home, no cherished dinner set passed down through the family, no iPods or Wii games strewn about the living room. What they have can be seen in this photo.

The song lyric keeps popping in my head, “when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.” Yet, the truth is that they do have something; they share common possessions with the richest of the world, the love of family, and times of joy with friends and family. This photo contorts the truth because of the despondent demeanor of a boy in dirty clothing turning from the camera. In truth that is merely showing his shyness, not his lack of happiness. Moments later he was running and laughing with the other children around this home in sheer enjoyment of a toy one of them had made. With scraps of material they had found a game materialized that was an obvious enjoyment for the children who joined in.

Maybe we, in these richest nations of the world, should mourn the children who become bored because they need a new game for their electronic game console, the old games have become tiresome. Or, those who never experienced the joy of making up a game from nothing that could entertain for hours. What about the families who bemoan the lack of new carpeting or a new BBQ with which they could better enjoy their patio and pool. Or, woe to the photographer whose digital camera is lacking in the latest features (I had to include myself in here somewhere.)

A friend recently challenged me to think honestly about what it is that I needed. Or better, what do I need to forsake to better serve the Lord? Possessions do indeed anchor our feet more securely to the ground, and when they are stripped from our hands we mourn. Yet, do we mourn so deeply at this loss of things that we don’t feel the freedom of our feet?

© 2009 A Mission Proclaimed

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One Response to “Family Blessings, Part II”

  1. Lisa Dziuk said

    Great post to read before going Christmas shopping.

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