I remember the quietness around me. I remember my mom in the kitchen preparing food for us. I also remember my dad coming home late at night after working a double job. I hear the sound of the keyboard in my brother’s room as he plays his video games. Soon after, I hear my mom’s television shows through the walls.
Walking in the rain to school was my normal because my parents worked early in the morning. I would wake up and they were gone. I often realized how hard my parents worked just to make ends meet. I remember every turn and every leaf that fell as I walked past every tree. I wondered what life would be like in the future.
How It Was Then.
The walls in our apartment home was few. No decorations was in sight, only the necessities was in plain view that could be seen in a single glance. A small round dining table, a sofa, small tv, and our family piano that I still have today. Finally in the bedrooms that was shared between my family and my cousins… our beds, a nightstand, an old computer, and a tv. That tiny closet with the sliding doors somehow fit all our clothes.
The simple lifestyle was only what a family like mine could afford. And every bit of spontaneity in “luxury” was appreciated. What is a luxury? For us, it was a dinner night out at a restaurant during somebody’s birthday. Maybe there was more, but this is what I can remember so clearly and I remember how much I loved it.
In my younger years, we’ve never had multiple of different foods everyday. I ate every little thing my mother or aunt prepared for us. There has never been more than just one entree and one side to choose from. We survived and we were okay.
I never experienced having my own room until I was in my late teens. I finally did, and that was only because my parents separated. I remember trying to feel happy to finally experience how it’s like having my own room, but I felt nothing. After all, how do you justify this heartbreak?
The way each of us lived as a child shapes how we are today. In my present life, everything looks different. The walls in my home are far and wide. I can’t see all the things in it in a single glance and each of my children has their own bedroom. There isn’t a single wall without some type of decoration. This life is different. I am very thankful God provides for us and more, but He warns me not to be consumed in it. He gives me recollections of my younger years and what that has taught me.
I calculate the food I prepare. Will there be too much leftover? I recall putting some away to freeze often. I find myself never making anymore than one type of entree and one side each day, either. I reach for my leftovers the next day like it’s a delicacy. I hear myself encouraging my children to eat last night’s leftover for lunch the next day. I see them preparing it themselves with content.
It’s pretty rewarding in this case. I didn’t realize I was passing this outlook of life to my kids. It makes me happy to know they don’t have an undesirable expectancy to want more or expecting different types of food. I see food as a means for survival. If anything should happen in the future, it’s a good mindset to have and I’m happy to know my children might have the same viewpoint. We still have different foods to choose from during gatherings and parties, but on a daily basis. It’s very simple.
Differences should help us, not hurt us.
Not everyone was raised like this, and that’s okay. Nobody should be judging anybody. We lived how we lived and we live now due to how we were raised, but what’s not okay is to judge another because of it. I remember a few years ago, my neighbor shared her story of how her boss insulted her. She was surprised at how it was even a problem to some people.
If I remember correctly, she agreed to work overtime that day and that it was okay because there’s still leftovers her husband could eat when he gets home from work. As a devoted audience, I can see the pain that showed through her eyes. Her boss said he felt sorry for her husband. I guess her boss never had leftovers in his entire life due to how he was raised. I remember the confusion in her heart because she didn’t realize something like that was a problem. Neither did her husband.
I remember thinking how hard life could be if things ended up different for her boss’ life. I wondered if his wife ever felt unappreciated. I questioned how often he insults his wife if he could easily insult my neighbor. I felt sorry for him because I wondered how often he battles the feeling of discontent. I’ve always thought that it was okay to have different lifestyles but wondered when it became okay to insult another because of it.
Compromising teaches us to be selfless and open minded.
We all were raised differently, and I’m sure there is a purpose shaped out of every experience. I am a simple woman even though others may not look at me so. They may judge and expect that a wife should be this way and that way and a husband should be this way and that way, but the truth is… we all should strive to be more like Jesus everyday. Humble, at peace, understanding, and loving to those around us.
The things we have in our home is not all me, but shared with someone who was raised differently than me. Together we make things work how we see fit. Together we compromise and make two mindsets that were raised completely different work. My husband and I, we are a team and we support each other. Our life is abundant and thanks to God, it works.
How did God put two people that are so different together? I still think it’s amazing that it happened. I can’t find the words to explain that type of joy that comes from the realization of how good God is. The different backgrounds or history of people, it helps us. It helps us to let go of our own mindset, even just for a moment, to compromise with another. It teaches us to be a little selfless everyday. Not everything I know or have lived is the way of life, and not everything my husband knows or have lived is the way of life. But together with all our differences make it something truly heavenly.
What’s inside our hearts and how we share it is how we will be remembered.
We survive as people not because of the things we “have” or solely on the things we should be “doing” as a woman or a a man. It is not because of what types of degrees we have, or how much we make in our income, but we survive because of the love in our hearts. What happens if the world changes completely and all these things mean nothing?
Let’s choose to be understanding instead of going the easy route of judging someone else. When things are completely different or something we are not used to, remember that they have a different history than us. Choose to have conversations instead of assumptions. We never fully know what goes on in a person’s mind and if we receive something offensively, ask why or what they meant instead of retaliating. Choose to speak love, instead of hate because technically we cannot take “hate” back. It’s simply something we heal from, not quite forgotten. In the end, the only thing people will remember is how much love we show them or the complete lack of it. That’s how people will remember us. How do we want to be remembered?
Pray with me.
Dear Jesus, I love who You are. I love the way You show love. Help me recognize that everyone is Your child and help me love them like You love them even if they do not see me the same. It’s amazing how You lived so humbly without all the riches of the world, but generations after you remember You still. Forgive me for all the things that I have done wrong. Forgive me for all the things I’ve said.. Teach me to be like You. Teach me to be understanding, compassionate, and loving like You so that Your Kingdom will expand.. In Your name, it is done! Amen.