The Richmond Police gave me my first ticket on Sunday. After eight years of driving, I suppose it was ab0ut time. Nevertheless, it put a major damper on an otherwise excellent reunion with friends.
I could tell you a long story about why it totally wasn’t my fault (seriously, I had the paper saying my car passed the VA emissions inspections), but this is not the place. We’ll stick with the lessons I’m trying to learn from it all, namely trust, detachment, and humility.
Since I’m not in the States for the court date, I’m stuck paying the fine. This crushed me. For the past year, I’ve been working hard to save all of my pennies. Granted, I have certain important investments worth spending money on, like saying goodbye to close friends and family, but otherwise, I’ve tried to live as frugally as possible.
In some ways, this is just being smart. Don’t spend money you don’t have, don’t throw away money with reckless abandon, etc. For myself, however, I think it goes beyond that. It comes down to trusting only myself, not others, and not God.
See, fundraising is pretty much the worst ever. I’ve been putting it off more or less this entire time…not good. Most of the money I do have comes from being lucky enough to have incredibly generous people in my life who have made donations without any real prompting on my part. I thought that I could get away with not doing any actual fundraising. I could rely upon myself and everything else would fall into place. This ticket was a smack in the face, a reminder that as much as I may want to, I can’t do this on my own.
First and foremost, I need God. A girl at my church is currently working to raise $20,000 to pay off student loans so she can enter the Sisters of Life in August (yay!). We’ve been talking about all of this and her example has been so beautiful and so humbling. Before doing anything else, she started with prayer and fasting. Now, she’s bringing together the entire church community to help her efforts. Incredible. See her blog here: http://spouseofthespirit.wordpress.com/
Secondly, I need my neighbor. This thought also harkens back to last week’s post about how all are called to the participate in the Great Commission and spread the gospel “to all nations.” Not everyone can peace out to a third world country for extend periods of time though. I have this unique opportunity because I have no debt, husband, children, job, etc. Others might not participate by actually going on mission, but they can participate through their monetary support and prayers. Without these things, mission wouldn’t be possible. The body of Christ functions because all of its members have different gifts and roles. The diversity of the body is critical.
I’ve also realized I consistently underestimate the generosity of people. The response of just a few has been overwhelming. Moreover, how proud and judgmental of me to think that my neighbor wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to help change the world in this small way. Even if circumstances don’t allow for monetary donations, the prayers that friends and family would offer are invaluable.
Now, Sunday’s ticket reinforced of all of the above things that I ultimately already knew. It also prompted an entirely new thought: Fundraising not only draws me closer to my Lord and my neighbor, but also to the poor.
Before I go any further, it must be said I cannot pretend to know what living in poverty is like. I have never gone hungry, never lacked a roof over my head, never wanted for clothing or medicine, or anything remotely close to that.
Asking for these funds, however, helps bring me closer to the experience of being completely dependent upon the generosity of others. I am literally asking people to keep me fed and housed and clothed and healthy for the next two years. Without this help, I wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s strange knowing that I’m physically and mentally quite capable of providing for myself, but circumstances make it such that that’s not possible during this time of my life. It’s a very hard and humbling place to be in.
In conclusion, if you’re reading this and have already made a donation, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you’re reading this and I haven’t yet asked you, know that I’ll probably be emailing you soon. Too, if you can only offer prayers, that’s enough. They’re just as (probably more) vital for survival. : )