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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Relationship Status: Attached

part 1

Have you ever 'done' theology?

I was amazed by a subject offered in our Religious Science course on "studying and doing theology"...our professors engaged us to live among the poor in the squatters area.

It reminded me of the first time I stepped into our mission house...okay, okay...I didn't have to walk barefoot nor sleep on the floor, nor dig out food from the garbage... the thing is, it's so easy to romanticize poverty. 

I could do away with less clothes, a non airconditioned room and a tv/radioless area... but when a friend asks me for my webster or my favorite book, or to spare time to listen to a patient after duty hours or to spend less time with my virtual world... it is difficult to let go! 

These are my riches...inordinate attachments... soft addictions .

It's a lot easier living among the poor... but becoming one myself in its real sense is a challenge ...

Didn't God Himself, the Word, assume our human form inorder to be one like us in everything? 



Are you poor?



44 comments:

  1. My goodness Melissa, did you write this post for me? hehe I seriously won't be able to sleep without an air-conditioner so I could barely imagine what my life would be like being poor. What I am working on right now is how to be poor in spirit. Not easy, especially because I grew up so sheltered. But again, with God's help, I know I can do it.

    Thanks for this beautiful post, Melissa! Take care and God bless! :-)

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    1. That's the spirit Irene :) Material things are here for our comfort and the only thing that makes them baneful is our 'abuse' of their use.

      I guess my focal point is not that we should discontinue our use of aircon ~ you hit 'poverty in spirit'. And that was what we were suppose to learn in that course.

      Thanks for sharing your reflections with me :) 'We' can do it in God's grace.

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  2. Hi, Melissa! ~

    I gave up a life of prosperity, raised in a well-to-do family and then married to a doctor, to raise my kids as a single mother and 'starving artist' for many years because I wanted to teach my kids that money is not the most important thing in life. Living on your own terms is more important. There were many times that I didn't know where our next meal was coming from, although we never had to dig in the garbage for food.

    When my younger son was a teenager he told me one morning that he had a dream that we were homeless and living under the freeway. In his dream I said, "Son, we must be grateful for what we have!" He shot back at me, in his dream, "Mom, WE DON'T HAVE ANYTHING!"

    I no longer believe I need to be 'poor to be pure' but I had to go through what I had to go through to learn what I had to learn. I think my son feels cheated by my 'scientific experiments' with our lives in this area. But, now he's almost done with college, which his grandparents paid for, and he gets to live the life of HIS dreams. Where will it take him? I do not know...

    My point is that this is a complex subject and we can go around and around it, and maybe that's what we need to do to really understand.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences Linda. I was taken aback and was made to reflect on other points in this theme.

      I did not expound much on 'kenosis' nor the virtue of 'humility'. I was thinking of the beauty of 'poverty' and how come the religious even profess it as a vow.

      Perhaps the succeeding parts of this post will extract the other things that sprung up from different experiences.

      I'd take in your line, "I no longer believe I need to be 'poor to be pure'....

      Thank you for opening my eyes to look at this in a wider angle :)

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  3. Melissa, I liked your phrase "soft addictions", those things that seem harmless, but keep us attached to the material world in unhealthy, non-productive ways. Keeping us separated, even if it's in a small way, from feeling all of God's love and purpose for us.
    I do not wish to be materially poor or to live in poverty, but I do know, if I lost every possession tomorrow, life would go on and I would be joyful in spirit, knowing the Lord is walking with me. Through Him, I can do everything.
    And, I so adore your gorgeous pencil sketch, my friend. So touching!
    Blessings to you always!

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    1. Hi Martha,I was inspired replying to comments, well for now, I guess :P

      I browsed for inordinate attachments and the search engine led me to soft addictions by Dr. Judy Wright (judithwright.com/soft-addictions/).

      It's about time to face them right? And you as well as my other friends' continuous reflections that led me to this.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences through God's Words everyday. I am glad that you have reached that level of detachment to your material possessions :)

      Your trust in God is remarkable. We continue to pray for each other.

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  4. ARTner you can visit mine for your next mission house...:)
    So that is what they do in Religious Science, we don't have that in our University, as if science can actually draft a curriculum out of religion. Is theology a study of THEO (God) or understanding of religion? I always thought this study should be personal in nature and not an academic process...it's inevitable to have biases when it comes to religion so I think professors on the subject will simply made me believe to what he believes. If I want to be a Muslim obviously I wont go to a Christian school right?
    So if you want to seek God, where do you start? In Theology? Hmmm...
    But its A good idea though how it would feels to be poor by actually living among the poor. Like you said, Jesus actually became flesh to dwell with us and by so doing, understanding also how it feels to be carnal, how it feels to be tempted by the devil...and therefore He is a righteous judge and savior for that matter.
    Now since I am poor, how will I understand to be rich? Ahhh...I should dwell among the rich. Then, I would know how it feels to be wealthy. Would I be generous or greedy?
    Rich or poor doesn't matter after all. What I strive for is this promise from Jesus in John 14:2 In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
    Wonderful blog again ARTner Melissa. God bless!!!

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    1. I guess there's so much we could put in the words 'poverty' and 'wealth'. We do attribute it more, however, on material things. When one is lacking, we term that as poor and when one has more than enough, then he/she's rich.

      Now taking in what you wrote, 'since I am poor, how will I understand the rich?' I guess, we should start looking at ourselves and consider what makes us poor and rich. There's so much to look at. Some consider their monthly income as basis. Others consider their children their wealth.

      But you do have a point. Why would one even consider living among the poor?

      Thanks ARTner for your insights.

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  5. Melissa having lived for a brief time in a slum as an experiment, I do know that it's something I can do. However, sometimes it's the 'giving up of our riches' itself that can be an act of pride - like we want to prove something. I've learnt as I've grown older that financial wealth is not frowned upon by God - but rather our pride about it and our unwillingness to share is what causes the problems. You're so right, it's the 'soft addictions' that can hold us from growing and loving as we are meant to.
    May you be inspired - everyday.

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    1. It is even true that material wealth is considered to be God's blessings. Yes, we do have to ask how much value we put into them. Are we so attached to them that we cannot reach out to others? Could we readily let go? Do we give from our surplus?

      Thanks for sharing BS :)

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  6. Well, I haven't been poor...but, I can say we were severely cash-strapped when I married. My hubby was the only bread winner in the family and had to support 5 members in his family and also sustain us. Coming from a family where I was not exposed to hardships, this must have been difficult...but, we thrived. It was a phase and it passed. And yes, I know the value of money...and also the importance of 'things'.

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    1. I love your reflections Janaki. Coming out from an experience very different from what you are in now could give you a jolt but this allows for more creativity on your part. I'm glad you've learned the importance of 'having' and 'lacking'.

      Thank you for sharing :)

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  7. I think a lot of us can be very poor even if we have a lot of material wealth. Things without substance is nothing. I don't think I've ever been poor in the material sense. I may not have a million dollars, but thanks to God I always have what I need to survive. A lot of people are way less fortunate than I have ever been. I think when we focus more on what we have (materially and spiritually) more will come. This was a thought provoking post Melissa. Thank you.

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    1. It is true and I agree Tameka. Most of us would be putting in more weight on what we do not have. But blessed are those who are grateful for what they have. It's always the value we put on things that matters.

      I am glad that a lot of things come out from the different experiences of those who've shared :) Thank you for your wisdom :)

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  8. We are so much better off aren't we? And yet we think we do not have enough. Are we poor? That is a question we all should ask ourselves. Beautiful soul sis

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    1. Well, I guess we are. And yet another discontentment takes place within me, so I try to put in more experiences on my side...LOL.

      I keep on asking this question everyday...perhaps when I empty myself of many other things, I could take in more :)

      Love you soul sis.

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  9. We seem to be never happy with what we have when what we have is still so much more than what others have. A great post. You have such a beautiful heart sister.

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    1. Oh sis, so true and yet we ask for more miracles from God. Maybe our heart is indeed restless until it rests on Him.

      Our desires could be so insatiable, it could be scary at times.

      Thank you for your reflections sis :)

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  10. yes, sweet mom, I think I am spiritually poor because though I say that I've full faith in God and say loudly 'Thy will be done!' yet I worry about many things like my mom's health etc.
    -Portia

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    1. Well, I haven't touched on this yet...but there's so much to look at in terms of spiritual poverty.

      Faith is reinforced in such conditions and I tell you, not to be unhappy. You have become aware of it and for this we must rejoice. God knows our hearts better than we do. I do wish you peace and I continue to pray for you and your mother.

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  11. Melissa, you are wise beyond your years and such a sensitive and gentle soul too. I am privileged to have known you and am really looking forward to meeting you sometime soon. God bless dear friend, take care.

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    1. I hope to meet you soon too Sulekha. I do learn a lot from people like you. Thank you for the compliment :)

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  12. It's really easy to romanticize poverty, especially when it's from a distance. There is nothing romantic though in seeing people starve, in seeing loved ones get sick and not be able to afford to send them to a doctor, in living in cramped rooms that afford no privacy nor quiet when one needs solitude and space. But there is value in poverty, and its value is in emptying ourselves so that God may fill us with far greater things and far greater joys. It is only here where even the darkest slums can see the light of hope in God's love.

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    1. What you have just written is so beautiful Joyce. When I first read of St. Francis' mystical marriage with Lady Poverty, I had something else in mind. But he did embrace the world's emptiness and turned everything that is 'bitter' into something sweet.

      Who wants to be poor? I guess nobody but if we realize what God wishes us to see in it, we will discover real joy.

      Thank you for your reflections.

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  13. Hi Melissa,
    I learnt about your Blog on Meet New Blogs Friday. I like it and have become a Follower. I am also a Christian and have leaned heavily on this faith to carry me through some rather challenging times in my life. I like the message in this post. It gives serious food for thought. Take care and God Bless!
    Judy

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    1. Oh I am grateful to Irene for bringing some of her friends here :) and thank you for visiting Depth. I am glad that you have taken out something from what you read. I have visited you too so I could get to know you better.

      God bless :)

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  14. Poverty for me is in the heart. Real poverty is lacking love, not money

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    1. This is also true and although I haven't tackled the different types of poverty yet, you have reached the base :)

      Thank you for your reflections.

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  15. I like your blog. Poverty, for me, is a hindrance but is does not mean that you cannot surpass them. Really nice post you got here.

    I got your link from Irene. I would be glad if we could exchanged links. I followed you already. Hope you can follow me too:

    noblessekey.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Key. It's so nice to meet you. Have you noticed, I put your link there? I enjoy the company of young people such as you and Irene.

      Poverty is a hindrance to? I wish you have finished that sentence :) But if I understood it correctly, perhaps you were referring to things that for lack of money we could not enjoy the benefit of ~ i.e. good education which, for us, means going to private schools; shelter, food, clothes, etc.

      Why would one wish to be poor? or live with the poor when I am poor myself?

      I wish I could bring you to that adventure so that you could discover things for yourself.

      God bless :)

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  16. Dear Melissa,
    So many different views on this. I personally believe if you have contentment, no one will have more or better than you. When you know where life came from, why it is like this today and the hope of the promised paradise earth...you have and know enough to be happy. Last but not least....LOVE...it is the secret to our happiness in this system of things. A system that will pass away soon. Yes and poverty will be no more...

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    1. Thank you Andy, while reading your comment for the nth time, I was able to reflect on a verse,"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth..." (Mt. 10, 34)

      I think that for some reason, discontentment and restlessness serves a purpose although we incline too much on the other side of the pole...Our hearts are restless because it does not rest in its true source.

      I hope to reflect more on your key point Andy. Thanks ;)You lit a bulb.

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  17. You are so very wise and I love reading your thoughts. Poverty comes in many forms and you spoke to that better then I ever could !!



    Jim

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    1. Thank you Jim. I do agree that poverty comes in many forms but the lesson learned would be to be open and be receptive :)

      I am learning a lot from you :) You are my wise friend.

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  18. It is our desires our wish for something that leads us to it and so often it is difficult to let go. Yet we should fast on it sometimes even if we dont let go of it totally...To be poor and learn to value what we have and understand those who want as much but dont have. Thought provoking

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    1. There's a push and pull in poverty. Thank you for your reflections Jerly. When we begin to see others' struggles and helplessness, then we are becoming aware of our own poverty. Because it pulls us away from our own miseries and opens us our eyes to other people's needs.

      There's still so much to learn :)

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  19. Dear Melissa, a very interesting post. I gave up many things when I moved to Argentina and set-up my own business. Most of the things I gave up were materialistic things. Back in my `old` life I spent a lot of time shopping and buying things...things that I didn`t need. Now I own so much less but my life is so much richer. One of my `friends` commented the other day that I am poor..I guess that is a matter of opinion, because I am rich in many other ways. Have a blessed week!

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    1. You are blessed with this new awareness Nelieta.I remember an old reflection we had over 'keeping' our little treasures from the places we traveled to. This time, we're looking at your 'real' treasures :)

      I'm so happy for you. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  20. Hi Melissa,
    This is an interesting post. I've been reading the comments and it's amazing how each person has their own personal relationship with poverty. I've always had food to eat and been able to find a dry place to sleep, but the most painful experience for me is loneliness. When bread is scarce and clothes are worn it doesn't seem quite so bad when you have someone you love with you. Poverty of spirit, poverty of love, poverty of empathy, these are the ultimate robbers. They rob us of the ability to care for others and perhaps put an end to poverty of material goods.
    What a wonderful post Melissa. You are so rich.
    Love!

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    1. Oooo...you've touched a poverty inside me that I've been struggling with for years. It's that deep need for human intimacy that friends could not give. God holds me by the collar whenever this ache comes to me.

      Thank you for your reflections Leah. You are one of my treasures :)

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  21. For me poverty is the main reason why many die.

    followed you here. hope you could follow mine too...

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    1. There are many kinds of poverty and different kinds of death... maybe we could explore on both in our next reflections. Thanks Albert. I visited your blog and found it interesting :)

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