by Heather Villa
Three billion people in the world struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. Children living in the United States who earn $10 per week allowance fall into the top 78 percent richest people in the world.
One day while my daughter and her friend sat at our kitchen table coloring, I overheard my daughter’s friend announce, “I don’t know any poor people.”
But that’s wasn’t true. At that time, my family’s annual income dipped slightly below the U.S. poverty line, and we joined nearly 16 percent other Americans. My husband had quit his corporate job without another job lined up to pursue teaching.
Our poverty was invisible to the others around us; it doesn’t necessarily look or act a certain way.
My husband and I declined dinner invitations to restaurants, shopped for our clothes at second-hand stores, and owned one car. But we knew how to make pizza crust from scratch and grew blueberries in our backyard. For entertainment our family regularly visited the public library, played board games and spent a lot of our free time outside.
Amazingly, sometimes people who struggled more than we did, offered us more encouragement than anyone.
We survived our experience partly because we were savers. But the real reason we survived is because of all the others who came along side of us as Christ’s hands and heart. For almost a year, someone anonymously paid our electrical bill. Family members and neighbors left fresh produce on our doorstep and others sent us care packages through the mail
We now understand the true meaning of grace and hope. Poverty is often invisible; it doesn’t always look a certain way or act a certain way. But God’s grace is right in the middle of it all. And that’s the best kind of hope imaginable.
Heather Villa is a freelance writer based in Roseburg, Oregon. Her husband recently accepted a position as chemistry professor at a community college, so their living situation has improved. Heather loves to read and hike with her husband and young daughter. She attends Hucrest Community Church with her family. This blog first ran as a “Give Us This Day” column in the May 2014 of Gather magazine.
Photo by William Warby; used with permission.