Just the other day I found myself immersed in reading about the recent massacres in Paris and Nigeria. I did this after having just purchased a new pair of designer shoes on Selfridges' website. Looking back at this behavior, I can't help but recognize the complex and ironic lives we often lead. I wonder just what to do with the resources that I have been given. I say "given" because although I have worked hard and made certain beneficial choices in life, I was also born as a woman into the first world and into a community that offered a lot of choices. This was nothing of my doing as there is so many women who are far less privileged and I know this. I have seen and met them. Those of us who are given much in life should be grateful for it and not let it be left to waste. This is an encouragement to me but also a burden. Perhaps you feel the same?
I am personally at a loss at how to find the right balance in life and I am desperate to do so. With so many atrocities happening in our world, how can we justify spending our time and money on what appears to be meaningless luxuries? How can I be at peace when I know about what is happening in this world and yet choose to eat at trendy restaurants, stay in lovely hotels and buy designer clothing? I want to have a lovely home and provide fantastic things for my children, but I am aware that it is not all about my little world. It is about the world as a whole. Everything and everyone affects us all.
Back in College I spent some time studying inner city organizations that help the poor. I was impressionable and idealistic. I wanted to become like Mother Theresa and yet I find myself so far from her. What once seemed so simple has only grown more confusing to me as I get older. Some of the best people that I have met, some of those who are doing the most for the betterment of humanity, actually live in luxury. My former Mother in Law uses her beautiful home and the homes of her neighbors for a large event that raises hundreds of thousands for projects in Zambia. My own Father used his skill as an ophthalmologist to perform cataract surgery on short term trips to third world countries while being able to return to his comfortable home in the States. There are many others I know that are successful businessmen and women who give of their finances to fund the projects that so desperately need it. In fact, I remember being on a trip to Rwanda to visit the work of World Relief with a number of donors. One of the men on the trip was an extremely successful businessman in the world of finance. While visiting the wonderful men and women who gave of their lives to serve the poor, his eyes filled with tears and he said to the leader of the trip that he was thinking that perhaps he should quit his lucrative career to move to a third world country. The Leader calmly turned to him and said that he was needed just where he was as his donations funded the work of so many. His gift was clearly to make money and if he was to quit and become a charity worker, he would be another person that would be in need of donors. Something in me clicked when this was said. Simplicity is sometimes the answer. We all have our unique talents. Some just seem more important than others and we often underestimate what we can do. My Sister in Law is the mother of three young and busy boys but she gives of her time to help others. When she found out that a nearby family had a young child going through cancer treatment, she went to their home to clean for them regularly. She said that she had the flexibility of time that so many don't have as they are working full time and confined to their offices. This challenged and inspired me in new ways as she does it quietly and humbly.
Heartache is not foreign to me as I have experienced great tragedy in my own life. I know that life is short and so I try to hold it loosely while also taking it seriously. When you can laugh you should because the tears will come. I know this. It is because of this that I believe we should live gratefully and joyfully. I believe that we should never take life for granted. I believe that we should have fun and laugh when we can. I believe that we should help out humanity in even the smallest of ways.
I don't know how to handle the overwhelming heartache I feel when I read the news about the tragedies in Paris and Nigeria. All I know is to take it day by day by doing even the smallest thing I can to help humanity. I will take the examples set before me and do my best with what I have. My heart is heavy but also set on hope.