Several nights ago, as Ezra and I were snuggling in bed – under a mosquito net, in an orphanage for disabled children in Ghana – he announced out of the blue, “Mom, I just realized for the first time that we are truly blessed. I mean truly.”
For some parents of healthy, financially privileged children, this is the moment they long for. Their whiny little brat gets a taste of what it means to suffer or to lack basic necessities, and everything will change. They will stop complaining that they don’t like how you prepared the chicken and will instead be grateful for food. They will stop telling you that absolutely EVERYONE has $150 shoes, and that you are ruining their lives by asking them to wear the perfectly acceptable shoes they already have.
But there is a menancing aspect to this type of gratitude, especially if you are a person of faith. Feeling blessed in the face of others’ suffering often serves to distance us from rather than connect us to others. We are blessed; they are not. They are different from us because they have not been blessed to live where there is running water. They are different from us because they were not blessed with arms and legs. We were chosen; they were not. Lucky us.
I’ll write more about what we said to Ezra later this week. For now, I am reminded of our first trip with the boys to a squatter’s village in Mexico, a trip where I learned one of the true benefits of taking your children outside their comfort zones. Check out that post and let me know what you think.
As a bonus, the end of that post lists my top ten tips for traveling with children, all of which have helped us on this trip.