1 a: the act or fact of living or continuing longer than another person or thing b: the continuation of life or existence
I recently read a book where characters were born with certain gifts (called graces). For a good deal of the book, it is assumed that a character has a grace for killing when, in fact, her grace is survival. I was thinking today that one of the tragedies of poverty to me is that survival trumps all other things.
Those who live in poverty don't get to use a gift of hospitality when they have no home. They don't get to use a gift for storytelling when they work nights and aren't home to tell their children stories before bed. Poor people are often focused merely on survival: on making it from one day to the next, having a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food on the table.
Impoverished people don't get to sit in a quiet, air-conditioned room and blog about how people use their gifts. This makes me feel guilty, but also grateful. I am grateful that I have the luxury of time to think about survival, the joy of reading books for pure pleasure and the fulfillment of writing down my thoughts. It makes me sad to think of how poverty keeps people from opening their gifts to use for the world. It amazes me to contemplate what our world could look like if we could unleash that potential instead of having a large portion of the world's population focused on survival.
Last week in my Bible study, we were talking about what characteristic of God we would most like our marriage to reflect. I'd like my marriage and my life to reflect God's ability to see us as who we can be, not who we are. I'd like to look at the woman in line ahead of me at the grocery store and see her desire and willingness to provide excellent, not adequate, meals for her family. I'd like to see the homeless man's potential to have a gorgeous flower garden, given the opportunity. I'd like to see my daughter as who she will someday be, living out her gifts in a way that blesses others. I pray each of my daughters has that opportunity and that they are not burdened with merely surviving.