I’m not going home to the Midwest this Christmas. For the first time in my 28 years of life, I will not be with my biological family on Christmas. Not an easy decision to make, but one I made purposefully. I think on a very surface level, there is the difficulty of getting away for a week… the heating of my home… the taking care of the plants… the transition happening when I get back. All that stuff can certainly be worked out and worked around. But there is more.
On a much deeper level, it is about considering the sacrifices I might make to understand those who don’t have a choice. It’s just money, they tell me. We can pay for your ticket. But as of right now, it would cost $800 to $900 for me to be home for a week. That’s more than rent for two months. In my mind, better to donate that money to bridgeWORKS so I can continue to bless people with hospitality. See the thing is, I am finding myself with people who don’t have a choice. They don’t know people who could pay $900 so that they could fly half way across the country. They don’t even have a choice to sleep under a roof, even in a car. They don’t have a choice about where they are going to eat or what they are going to eat. For me, this may never be a problem. I have people who will help. I’m not alone. Not the case for many, many people. There are so many reasons that people can give me of why I should take the opportunity if I have it.
It’s like choosing to walk on a cold day, when I have a car or a bike I could use. Why not drive? You’ll get there 10 times faster and you’ll be warm. Why walk and freeze your ass off? Your feet will hurt, your hair might freeze, you could slip and fall… and you have a car and can pay for gas. And yet, some people don’t have a choice. Do I know what that feels like? Can I truly empathize with them if I remove myself from their situations by simply doing things because I can?
We all have ideas about how Christmas should be. We all have ideas of how we would like our worlds to be. This usually involves how others should act as well. Many times, this comes from a “We have always done it this way and it will be uncomfortable if we think differently about it this time” thought process. We feel pain. We are sad. But for me to live purposefully, I recognize that there is going to be suffering no matter what decision I make… whether I stay or whether I go. No matter what, my decisions may cause others pain. And no matter what, whether people are pleased or hurt by my decision, it is usually because they are seeing what they want to see about why I chose one way or another. It may have nothing to do with my own reasons.
I must put aside the suffering and choose from my deepest heart and purpose. If I do not do this, I am not offering myself to the world. I am only giving what everyone wants me to give them.