It’s Not Enough to Raise Good Kids, Let’s Raise Our Kids to be Givers and Mission Makers
I pulled into the parking lot late, exhausted from the week’s unraveling of what was expected to be a fine-tuned balance of busy. Instead, I was thrown into that high-velocity fever pitch place, where gravity loses its pull and you’re flying through the days bouncing chaotically from one thing to the next, just trying to survive.
I had so much to do and yet, I knew this was my priority, my plan, but this week’s fury left me reeling in a fit of anxiety for all those things left undone.
As soon as I walked through the doors, I was thrown into another world from where I had been. I peered at the hundreds of stuffed garbage bags lining the walls and another hundred boxes stacked on make-shift shelves in the lodge, with more bags and boxes piled underneath. All full of coats, pajamas, underwear, socks, hats, and gloves, necessities that families so desperately need.
Each bag was tagged with a list of the family’s members, with the sizes and gender of each child and parent. I joined the band of volunteers with the job of auditing each bag to ensure each article of clothing was accurately included. After the warm welcome from the managing leaders of this massive mission, I got to work.
The overwhelm from my spinning world began to melt with each new bag I opened and each list of family members I read. I began envisioning each family, wondering about the reality of their lives and I started praying for each precious soul I checked off the list with each piece I placed back in the bag. “2T- Boy, 3T- Girl, 12 mo- Girl, XL- Woman”, and tears flooded my eyes with both grief and gratitude. Grief in the awakening of the cruel reality of so many people suffering and gratitude at the astounding ways these people are giving.
As I placed each bag with a new label marked “Done” and headed over to the overflowing shelves to grab another, little whispers of that “to do list” begged for my attention. “Don’t forget to pick up more tortillas for the team dinner after you get to that doctor appointment. Make sure to drop off the physical forms for the doctor to sign.” Etc. But as soon as I opened the next bag, my heart flooded with grief and gratitude again, as I began to pray for yet another family in need. I was touching the very articles of clothing that would be worn by these children and parents, and the experience became intimate, personal, passionate.
This process went on for hours and although my stomach was groaning with hunger and I had planned to leave early to attempt to salvage an already frenzied day, I stayed. I stayed because there were so many bags yet to be done and so many families yet to be clothed, and so many needs left to be met. I was drenched in the outpouring of the provision as I relished in the extraordinary generosity of humankind and the privilege to witness it all unfold.
Something shifts inside you when you step out of your world and into another, where you recognize the cruel fate of those who consider the daily necessities an outpouring of gifts and those exact gifts are stuffed in your closets and drawers in abundance, some not even used. This level of need my kids and I do not know. We live a life of extravagant luxury compared to these dear families, and yet I can become blind to it when I’m too distracted by my own busy life.
I kept glancing around this lodge, packed with all these survival items that my community had donated, and my throat clenched and my eyes welled up in tears while I gazed at the magnitude of this mission.
And a profound revelation stripped me down to the bare-naked truth of it all.
If we stay busy enough trying to meet our own needs, salvaging our own sanity while balancing on this tightrope of life, how will we learn of those who have slipped and fallen below?
If we continue to bounce around at our own frenzied pace, just trying to survive gravity’s unpredictable pull, how will we learn of those flung out in the dark abyss of space?
If our grip is tightly wrapped around our own needs, how will we be able to open our hands and extend them to meet the needs of others?
I’m convicted of such things. And it’s here where my passion rises to teach my kids these profound truths.
I must not simply tell my kids about the famine of others while we enjoy our feast, but rather, I must show them how to tune into the needs of others and take action in making a difference in their lives.
It’s up to us parents to teach our kids about a world outside of theirs and help them stretch their own hands open to give of their time, their resources, themselves.
Our family joined others in delivering these gifts to families in need around our city and I can only hope that we learn how to let go of our own grip and extend our hands more often, together.
To those who serve their communities and make a difference in the lives of others, thank you for teaching us how to do the same.
To those who manage to make serving a priority in your lives on a regular basis, thank you for showing us what’s most important.
To those who are devoted to leading such incredible missions, thank you for inspiring us to sacrifice more.
And for those who are bouncing around your own world and want to make room in your family’s life to serve in your community, reach out to religious organizations, food banks, shelters, etc. and ask how you and your kids can help. Look into areas all around the world in need and decide how your family can help in your own way.
Let this season be a profound reminder that all over this world, there are families in need and endless opportunities to serve them, not just around the Holidays, but every day, all year-long.
If we all commit to serving on a regular basis throughout the year, just think of the difference we can make in the countless lives of others.
And more importantly, let’s raise our kids to be the givers and mission makers of the next generation.
Our world needs them like never before…