Let it be said that I love new things. Whether it's a new toothbrush or a new outfit-- I just love getting something new. I even love going to the grocery store, putting all those shiny new fruits & veggies in my cart, looking at all the interesting items my friend, Trader Joe, has to offer. If it were up to me (and if my paycheck had an extra zero), the economy would be doing much better, my friends. I suppose I'm a capitalist at heart. Or maybe I'm just a material girl (hey, that's catchy-- I should write a song about that).
Despite the whole puny paycheck thing, it seems like I've been getting (or will be getting) lots of new stuff lately. I was recently treated to a manicure & pedicure-- a huge luxury. I purchased some amazing new makeup with a gift card (and every time I look at that pretty little bottle, it makes my heart soar). Tomorrow, I get an extra special treat of buying a super fancy new cell phone with some of our tax return money. We are even looking into getting a new car, and the excitement of getting to test drive so many pretty things, and smell all that new car smell is just almost too much for me!
The down side to all of this is that I have been reading this book called The Irresistible Revolution... and it's such a buzz kill. It's all about our responsibility as Christians to take care of the poor, to live simply, and to be (as he puts it) an "ordinary radical".
Now, if you know me at all, you would probably think that this book would be right up my alley. I mean, these are supposed to be principles that I'm all about-- principles that I get me fired up, and make me bang my fist against the table and get all teared up over.
The problem is that this guy, this Shane Claiborne freak, is way, way too radical for me. He's just over the top. He says things like "When Jesus tells us to sell our possessions and give them to the poor, he wants us to sell our possessions and give them to the poor." Freak. Where does he come up with stuff like this?
On Saturday, while we were enjoying the incredible warmth & sunshine, I was laying in the park, reading his stupid book. He said that in Matthew 25, when Jesus said "I was a stranger & you invited me in" he did not mean that we should write a check to the local homeless shelter and leave our spare bedrooms empty. He meant that we should actually invite people into our homes (whew, good thing we don't have a spare bedroom!). It was very challenging.
I was wrestling through these thoughts Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church. As I looked in the mirror, doing my hair, a homeless man stopped his cart outside the bathroom window & began rearranging his items. I was in a foul mood, and I was late for church, and it was so hard for me to straighten my hair & rush off to church while watching this homeless man carefully organize his treasures right in my line of vision.
You're probably waiting for the beautiful part of the story where I put down my flat iron and offered this homeless man some breakfast. Well, I didn't. What I did do was skip that church service (thank God for the noon service), and go for a walk with Chris while I processed through my foul mood and these deep thoughts.
"We don't know any poor people" I mused when we got to the park. "I think our first step should be getting to know some poor people. We can't help the poor if we don't know them."
At that very moment, a clumsy pit bull puppy rambled up and tackled Gavin. A thuggish 16 year old kid followed behind, and we struck up a conversation about his pit bull, Mafiosa. His English was broken, and I struggled to follow as he showed me pictures on his cell phone of Mafiosa's father, the biggest, scariest dog I have ever seen in my life (I almost wet myself just looking at his cell phone). But despite his puppy's heritage, this kid was really sweet-- I mean, I really great kid.
A half an hour later, as we were walking home, I smiled to myself, thinking, "Maybe this won't be as hard as I thought." Step One: Talk to a sweet teenage thug. It's a good place to start.
From there, maybe I can start slowly letting go of those little things-- the things that come in shiny new packages-- and work on some of the nutty, "radical" principles I keep reading in this book.