Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is a slave of the lender.
I learned an important lesson today about perspective and poverty from a conversation with a student about random things–wrestlers he wanted to see in person, Halloween, his dreams, the future. Mid-conversation, he glanced down at the table where I was working.
“Teachers always say they’re poor,” he tells me. “But you’re sitting there with a laptop, a cell phone, and an iPad. I’ve never owned any of those things.”
My heart stopped. Tears welled in my eyes, and I could tell that he knew he’d gotten to me. What could I say to that?
I finally explained to him that most teachers consider themselves poor not because of how much money they make or the worth of their belongings, but because of how much debt we have to pay off from our education. How most of us never have that much extra money in the bank because we delve it all out to bills. He seemed to understand, especially when I said that sometimes it’s better to have nothing than to owe more than you have.
Sometimes we Christians love to whine about our deficiencies, and to plead poverty when we misuse what God has given us. Other times, we work as hard as we can to make our way in a debt-driven society, but fail because of circumstance. Regardless of how we find ourselves in financial holes, they bring many of us to despair.
Worrying about money and stressing over how to stay out of financial holes is a great temptation for me.
One reason I try so hard to seek publishing is the chance to pay off my student loans and live debt free so I can spend more of my money serving Him. This would be a game changer, giving me extra income to just write a check when there’s need. And trust me, working in a low-income school system, I could write thousands of checks every week and it still wouldn’t be enough.
The conversation also made me think harder about how I depict poverty and wealth in my writing. Am I in danger of alienating readers because I only consider wealth from my own perspective? Do I describe an “impoverished” home that some would be blessed to dwell in? Do I write about meager meals that would be a feast to some?
Or, for that matter, because I only consider many things from my perspective? Health? Success? Luxury? Definitely food for thought!