I was completely awe-struck, I couldn’t believe it. How in the world could he possibly do that?! I was literally moved to tears.
Once again, I, a grown man, born in the land of opportunity and affluence, was being humbled and taught by a little boy who had almost nothing.
We had gone to the city of Santiago, in the gorgeous Dominican Republic, to help two orphanages that were in great need. The first, Hogar De Angeles (Home of Angels), was for disabled children who had been abandoned. We had just come from there and my heart and mind were still trying to absorb all that we had felt and experienced with those truly angelic people.
We were now in the orphanage for street boys. They ranged in ages 4 to 14, and we were warned that they were pretty rough kids. My heart ached again as we walked in and saw these handsome, dark-skinned little boys living in a small, locked-down compound.
Most of them had neither shoes nor shirts. They all slept in one room, on old mattresses with no sheets or blankets. They ate a pretty nasty porridge everyday for most meals. I know it’s nasty because they fed us; and made us eat first while the boys watched. We were the “honored guests.” I was humbled again.
These awesome little boys were so thrilled to have visitors. We had brought our children with us, of course, and they all began to play. We brought great books for the boys, and learned that they had no educational materials in the orphanage. The boys quickly cuddled up next to us-complete strangers-and sat enthralled as we read stories to them. They held on to our legs, hugged us, and sat on our laps as we talked to them and played games with them.
Then it happened. One of the most powerful lessons of my life. I still can’t believe he did it.
One little boy, about 5 or 6, was so grateful that we had come, that he ran into the room and pulled from a hiding place, his little toy car. (Very likely the only toy he had.) He ran outside and gave it to my son, who was about his same age. I tried to stop him, but he insisted. He told me he was so grateful to have a new friend come to play with him, that he wanted my son to have his car.
We had come to bring gifts, to serve, to influence, to teach. And here I was, being taught by a little orphan boy who had almost nothing.
He was giving away his prized possession, because of his deep gratitude and joy.
If you’ve been around little children, you’ve probably observed how hard it is for them to even share their favorite toys. This little guy wasn’t sharing…he was giving it away for good.
I was reminded of that insightful story in the Bible of the Widow and her mites. She gave all, while the others cast in a little of their abundance.
That day I began to more carefully consider my attachment to things and stuff. I began to analyze and ask myself, “Do I have possessions, or do they have me?”
Bertrand Russell taught,
“It is the pre-occupation with possession, more than any other thing, that keeps men and women from living freely and nobly.”
I continued to study the lives of great men and women who had made the biggest positive impact in the world. People like Mother Theresa, Ghandi, and of course Jesus Christ.
How did they handle material possessions?
Is it possible to have some nice things and still live a life that matters? Of course.
Is it possible to have possessions without becoming possessed? Yes.
How then do we do it?
It begins with a proper perspective and continues with clear priorities.
In reality, you and I don’t actually own anything. We can’t take them with us when we leave this life, so everything is just a temporary stewardship. When we die, someone else will take over that stewardship.
Remembering this will help us maintain perspective, and loosen our grip on possessions. Sooner or later, we must detach ourselves from stuff and things.
The sooner, the better.
Then we can really focus in on our priorities.
To Be Continued…