I can remember like it was yesterday…

I was working full-time (granted it was a high stress job where I was on call 24/7) but I was gainfully employed.  When the money was coming in, I didn’t think twice about spending money on clothes because they were on sale, not because I LOVED them and knew I would wear them.  I also remember donating clothes with tags still on them to various charities because I never wore them.  O.K. – so that wasn’t necessarily a waste, but could have been better spent if the money went directly to the charity instead of on clothes that would sit in my closet until they went out of style.

I also remember taking up hobbies, spending money on so many “things” I didn’t need, being completely oblivious of the need just around the corner at MUST Ministries.  I knew there were homeless people – that’s what I called them… thinking nothing of how it made them feel to be called homeless.  I’ve learned homelessness is a temporary state of being, not a label.   Or families that struggled on a daily basis wondering where their next meal would come from, when I would buy too much produce and end up having to throw half of it out because it went bad.  I wasn’t very sympathetic.  I thought if they wanted to work badly enough, they’d get a job, even if they had to flip burgers.  I know now, it’s not that easy.

This was many years ago.  I have since then lost that great paying job due to falling ill because of all the stress and am currently only working part-time.  (Yes, we had savings and yes we went through all of it.  That’s another story.)  Not because that’s all I want to work, but because it’s difficult to find full-time employment despite my skills.  I have learned working with MUST Ministries these past few months just how blessed my family and I are.  Despite the hard times we’ve gone through, barely able to pay bills each month, barely having enough food to put on the table, we’ve been fortunate in that we DID have enough.  Did I ever have to go to bed hungry? O.K. – I admit it, I did a time or two because I couldn’t stomach the same thing day in and day out.  Eating on a tight budget doesn’t give you a lot of variety.    We’ve never had to not pay a bill in order to eat.  I’ve learned there are so many people who have gone through so many hardships and when I hear of their stories, I feel guilty.  Guilty for the money I wasted all those years ago.  Guilty for the time I spent unemployed sitting at home when I could have been serving those less fortunate than myself.

This has definitely been an eye-opening experience for me, and even though we’re still living paycheck to paycheck, I give to MUST Ministries every month, even if it’s just a little bit because I see first hand just how many lives they have changed and continue to change.  Have you thought of giving a little each month?