This week, my family had the opportunity to visit a “Compassion: Change the Story” presentation. If you’ve never heard of it (I hadn’t either), here’s a little summary for you: Compassion International has a traveling exhibit. As you walk through the guided tour, you see replicas of the homes of children living in poverty. And even more significantly, you listen to the words and stories of children who have been sponsored through Compassion. You see and hear the heartbreak and despair. And then you feel the hope and the change that sponsorship brought them.
It was remarkable.
(I’ll share more details of the experience with you at another time. But one story at a time.)
As we drove to the exhibit, I wanted to prepare my children for what they’d be seeing. We talked about our sponsored boys and about the poverty they live in. We talked about our home and about how it compares to the homes of so many others in the world.
And then, from the mouth of my children, came heart-stopping questions.
“Mom … why did Heavenly Father and Jesus give some people such little houses and not enough food?”
” … Mom?”
My heart was in my throat. My brain was in overdrive. For a moment, I had no idea how to answer. Because honestly, I have struggled with these same thoughts. I have looked at the injustices in the world and have wept at the unfair hand that some people seem to have been dealt. As I fought tears, my mind flew through many possible answers. Finally, I opened my mouth and began to speak from my heart. Haltingly at first, but with increasing confidence as I spoke, the words came.
“Guys, everyone is born and … Well, everyone has things in their life that are sad and hard. For some people, they have a hard time because they don’t have enough for money to buy things. They don’t have a nice house, or very much food. Some people don’t have a job. Some people’s bodies have lots of ouchies, and that’s very hard. And it’s very sad.
“But you know what, guys? Some people, like us, are so lucky. We have enough food to eat. We have a house we can live in. And we are SO lucky that we even have some extra money. So here’s what I think. I think that we can all help each other. And if we have more than what we need, we should choose to share. Because we can change people’s lives. We can help fix their problems.”
We continued to have a wonderful talk about the work that Compassion is doing for our sponsored children. I pulled up a scripture on my phone and we had a wonderful discussion. By the end of the conversation, my children no longer seemed upset.
But I still am.
I am upset.
I am upset that there are women who believe they only have two options: sell their body, or starve.
I am upset that there are children who do not go to school because they are so hungry that they choose to spend their day in the dump, hoping to find something edible.
I am upset that there are young adults who have no vision of a future that do not involve gangs and violence.
Many things make me upset.
And do you know what?
I hope they make you upset, too.
I don’t want to be upset all of the time, and I don’t want you to be upset all of the time. I don’t even want us to be upset most of the time. I believe that life is largely what we make of it, and I try to seek things that are good and lovely and uplifting. I am trying to teach my children to count their blessings and to look at the positive side of life. I believe the world is full of wonderful people who are trying hard to live good lives. I hope you feel the same way.
But sometimes, we need our lives to be shaken up a little bit. As we sit in our comfortable homes, near our kitchens full of food, we need to realize that there are many, many, many people who desperately need help. Right at this moment.
Sometimes, we should be so upset that we just can’t sit still any longer. We should feel so passionate that we decide that even if it means we have to skip lunch, we will donate a dollar to feed someone who is hungry. This passion should fuel us to find our local abused women’s shelter and ask what they need right now.
This unsettled feeling in our heart should push us to seek out organizations that serve refugees, fight against sex slavery, or educate those in poverty. We should be calling our city’s soup kitchen and finding out what their empty shelves need right this minute. We should quietly search our hearts, find a cause that speaks to us, and do something – even something tiny – to help. And then we should open our mouth to advocate for that cause.
Because if you have a computer or a phone with internet access, and you’re reading this right now, I’m guessing you are like me. You have enough to keep you alive … and you probably have a little bit to share.
Let’s get upset together.
And then let’s do something.