Be love and other lessons learned in Costco

November 06, 2011

I almost cried in Costco today.  It took me by surprise and brought me to a new level of thanksgiving.

Actually, allow me to back up and tell it from the beginning: I was in Costco today, list in hand (or actually in phone) and two kids in toe. I am not pressed for time, so we browse the Christmas isle admiring the beautiful decorations and large Nativity Scenes. I take note as Ashlyn points out EVERY SINGLE princess themed item on display noting what was to go on her Christmas list. Rounding the corner I spot a familiar sight: several women standing, hair in nets, ready to offer samples of food.

We stand in line for our free breaded chicken.  My eyes glance around at the customers ahead of me taking their turn, samples in hand, samples in mouth, small plastic cups and spoons deposited into the trash, moving on. The warehouse in which I stand looms large.  The rows of oversized food begin to suffocate me.  Suddenly my mind is transported to a different place and is assaulted with images of thin African arms, starved of nutrients,

of desperate fingers picking through the parched soil for a few fallen grains of food,

of dead animals, ribs exposed to the harsh, dry land,

of animals standing starved, ribs reaching through their skin as if covered by a sheet.

In this moment, a wave of realization pours over me: I am wandering through a store full of people–FULL people. Our wallets are full, our stomachs are full, our carts are full.  My open, outstretched hand reaches for the free food and my eyes threaten to spill over. I have so much.  I deserve so little.  I wrestle against the guilt of my blessings and as I toss my small plastic cup and spoon into the trash of one-bite meals, I vow to make a difference with what I have been given.

A few weeks ago I shared our hearts desire to increase the gratitude in our home and my humble plan to carry it out.  Our first gratitude project on the topic of Water primed our appetite for more and in this month of giving thanks, it seemed only fitting to dig in to our next subject: Food.

I have spent some considerable time pouring over videos, websites, brochures, praying, talking and planning with the desire to introduce our children to the reality of their abundantly full life.  It isn’t comfortable.  It isn’t fun.  It isn’t much of anything that resounds with our American culture. Yet the process of opening up my heart to problems that are too large for me to solve is, I believe, a healthy thing.  To be burdened with the sorrows of another causes reflection, introspection and surrender to a God who is well acquainted with grief.

As I was writing this, I heard the cry of my oldest piercing the night.  He called out in pain, clutching his stomach and begging God for healing.  For an hour we sat together on the couch waiting out the pain with our prayers until finally relief came in the form of emptying.

It is like that for us too.  Relief comes when we give up, when we loosen the grip, when we surrender.  This problem of famine, hunger, death is too big for me.  Yet I will not be stopped by the size of the storm.  I will turn my face to the sky and ask my Savior what roll he has created me to fill.  In doing so I am able to make a difference with what I have been given.  I can be love.

What about you.  Are you willing to join me in digging into this topic? I am compiling information and breaking it down into “head” (information to help you understand the problem) “heart” (ideas on how you can respond internally) and “hands” (practical ways your family can meet the needs practically).  Ready to begin?  Let’s start with the “head“. (If you want to get these next blog posts by email, simply sign up on the right side of the blog).

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