Our Relationship to Poverty

Last week I was asked to share my relationship to poverty. I spoke about my childhood, one deeply impacted by economic hardship. Though truth be told, this was my mother’s story of poverty, not mine because as a baby, I didn’t recognize our suffering; I felt only her immense love for me.

As we were sharing, another member of my group said something profoundly heartfelt and it resonated with me far beyond any of the stories we shared. She said, “I didn’t know I was poor.” The wealth of love is incredibly powerful.

In 2011 I visited a Compassion orphanage in India and I was humbled during my time with the children. They were joyful and welcomed me with generous hearts. They were clearly loved and it reminded me that true wealth is not the number or cost of things we purchase. I saw them, not as children lost or left behind, but as children full of promise. When it came time for me to give my speech, I simply said, “God has a plan for you.” His plan for me was to bring me to them to learn and to share the possibilities beyond their understanding.

My relationship to poverty has so little to do with where I have been on the economic totem pole. Poverty is our understanding of the richness of life and how we treat one another. I hope, that like my mother and the orphans, I too speak the language of generosity.

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