Four years ago, we were living in another city in India, in the top floor of a family’s home. The family had a kind daughter who was in college and lived away from home, but I certainly enjoyed her company when she was around. (If any of you followed our blog back then, she’s the one who tried to help remedy my accidental pink hair.)
One day, we were headed to Delhi and she was returning to university. Her place was only an hour out of our way, so she traveled with us. We got to her home and she was delighted to show us inside. It was a small room she and one other girl rented. The two twin beds were pushed together and took up the majority of the room. It was cute, but small, the concrete floor cool to our feet. She quickly made us some chai on her burner that hooked to a gas cylinder. It was a sweet time.
She proudly showed me some of her things, including beautiful jewelry. She had around a dozen pieces. She told me to pick a pair of earrings as a gift from her. Of course, I refused, thinking of the abundance of jewelry I had in comparison. She insisted. And insisted. It’s an honor in this culture to treat your guests as “god,” so of course, there are gifts. I picked this pair of earrings and also left with a bottle of nail polish.
I love these earrings. But I love the generosity more. I love that the family (who had become like family to us) just assumed it was fine for her to ride with us even if it was an hour inconvenience. Why don’t we expect more from and give more to those we love? I love that she had enough and was proud of what she had. Her place was more than adequate for living and studying, but I wouldn’t have thought so five short years ago. I love that she had little and gave much.
I hate that I am the opposite. I have much and give little.
This idea of excess has been eating at my heart a lot lately. I mentioned it in passing last week and a friend in America said, “No way! You can’t have excess. You live in India.” Oh, no, my friends. Over 5 years ago, we may have sold everything we own and loaded the rest in a mini-van and left town, but that didn’t take the excessive western mindset with it. We arrived and bought everything we believed we “needed” and still often do. We brought things from America we weren’t sure we could live without, then brought a spare in case it broke or was used entirely.
Then I see the earrings. Or the people down the street living in a literal shack. Or those working intensive labor all day just for food. And I am ashamed. And nauseous.
Lord, make us content in plenty and in want, but not in excess. Help us give often and certainly love much.