Have you ever been poor? More than broke, more than bankrupt, more than desperate…have you ever had nothing? Where you had nothing and nobody to call your own? No where to turn? Completely and utterly destitute?
I haven't. I have never wanted materially. Not once.
I have a hard time even conceiving of it. Born with middle class American privileges: education, food, opportunities. I've never lacked for the basics, and I've often had way more than enough. I've been through some temporary rough patches, but nothing a little elbow grease and bootstrapping couldn't fix.
I hesitate to even write this, because I don't want to sound like I know what I'm talking about. 'Cause I don't know anything.
I can't do anything right.
I don't know how to live like God wants me to live.
I don't know how to stop doing the things God's Word says not to do.
I don't know how to do the things God's Word says to do.
I don't know how my own inner voice works anymore.
I don't know how to stop second guessing myself.
I'm walking around and I'm doing my job and I'm taking care of my kids, but I don't know how to do any of it without offending God. It's unbearable. It's paralyzing. It's horrifying. I've been shaking. I've been queasy. I've felt ominous clouds rolling over my skies. And there is no way I can fix it. I cannot live right at all. There's no way out.
Forgive me if you know what's coming. I didn't.
I was trolling along aimlessly through blogs, feeling so bewildered when I encountered this verse (that I of course have seen before but never understood) in a blog at reallivepreacher.com: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NIV). In the comments, rlp says:
The classic interpretation of this is that Spiritual Poverty is the state in which you understand that you are unable by the force of your own will, to live your life in ways that are spiritually healthy. This is VERY much like the first step in AA when a person admits he is powerless over alcohol.
Many of us believe in living in certain ways, and then are unable or unwilling or unprepared or whatever to do so. Christian spirituality begins with an admission of that fact. That's what I think Jesus is getting at.
So that's what this feeling is. Being poor. It's ugly. It hurts. It doesn't feel blessed at all.
And yet, to know that every teeny tiny thing I have, even this glimmer of understanding, is something He has given to me is remarkable.