I cried at WalMart last night.
Well, not boo-hoo, splotchy-red-eyes, mascara-dripping-down-my-face cried, but teared up enough to make the 3 college guys in the same aisle put down the things they were looking at and slowly back away. (I’m not exaggerating about this – that actually happened.) And what was worse than crying in a WalMart was my reaction to my crying in a WalMart: I was embarrassed.
It probably sounds strange that “embarrassment” was the wrong response, but I’ll try to explain why. My school has been putting together boxes for Operation Christmas Child and to help the kids get motivated to give, we’ve been watching little video clips of what these presents mean to the children who receive them. My class has small goals set and I’ve been collecting things to help them meet their goals. Since my students are typical kids who want to buy only toys and coloring books our boxes are missing hygiene items like soap and toothpaste, so I took at trip to WalMart last night to pick up a few bars and tubes. Because I am an excellent shopper and because WalMart has pretty much everything under the sun, I can easily spend an extra half hour in the store, wandering around putting little things into my basket. I was about to leave when I remembered that the kids had asked if we could put Hot Wheels cars into a shoe box but no one had brought any in. Even though I’m a girl, I violated the section in our handbook when I was younger that stated that girls were not allowed to play with little toy cars, so I know how much fun it is to shove your car as fast as you can off the side of the table to see how far it’ll fly.
This is where I started to fall apart a little bit.
There were more options for matchbox cars than I originally anticipated, so I stood for a second trying to figure out what a little boy in another country would want for his car. Would he like a convertible or a truck? White or red? Classic or modern? And that’s when I realized that really, it didn’t matter which car I got for him. He would be happy because he was getting a new, shiny car to play with. A woman from Samaritan’s Purse told us that the boxes we send could be the first present these children have ever gotten.
Then it hit me all at once. How unfair it is that these children don’t have the same opportunities as the ones in my hometown. How much God really does love each and every single child more than I can understand. How a box with $18 worth of items can be such a powerful, tangible way to show someone how loved they are. And mostly, how important it is to be generous.
I have these moments when I really understand this generosity thing. They’re moments when I’m stirred up and passionate, wanting desperately to love people because I’ve gotten a sliver of understanding of how great that is. But I lose my passion and zealousness because I get distracted. I prioritize other things because “love people more” seems less attainable than “write lesson plans.” I don’t really know how to fix this, but I’m hoping that at least recognizing it and wanting to change will be enough for now.
In the meantime, I’ll carry Kleenex in my purse. Take that, creeped-out college guys!