Skip to main content

The Cost of a Life

$420 can buy half a year of cable television.
Or a fancy family photo shoot.
Or a round trip ticket from Buffalo, NY to Little Rock, AR.

$420 can purchase froyo dates twice each month for a year.
Or two tickets to a Seahawks game (eight tickets to a Bills game).
Or a coffee at Tim Horton's twice a week for a year.
Or a new ipad.

$420 can buy 10 cheap, 2 hour dates (including babysitting).
Or half a year of monthly mani/pedi salon visits.
Or one day's admission for a family of four to the Happiest Place on Earth.
Or a year of school supplies, medical care, and food for an impoverished child.  

$420 is the difference between life and death for many children in the developing world.  Yet we, as Americans, waste that amount on all sorts of absurdities.  Worse, we have a long list of justifications and "don't judge me" attitudes that prevent us from re-evaluating our daily decisions.

We defend our right to diversion.  To entertainment.  To self- and family-worship.  This is the land of the free, after all.  Undoubtedly, we are free to make decisions for which we will one day give an account to God.  But as we exercise our freedom, we are (consciously or not) turning our backs on the needs of billions who live in poverty.

This should not be. As I was considering our family expenditures over the past few months, the following passage (II Corinthians 8) kept coming to mind:

"Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written, 'The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.' "

Do I truly desire to live this way? In a way that promotes global equality? Or do I glibly acknowledge the suffering of others, while enjoying the nonsense of unnecessary expenditures?

Could I do without cable? Do I need yet another picture of myself, my husband or my family in a magazine-like setting? Could I drive instead of fly? Do we really need dessert, someone else to pour our coffee (for a 800% mark up), or new electronic devices? Could I paint my nails at home? Or maybe trust that God made my nails satisfactory au natural?

These are hard questions. But the answers to these questions, while non-critical to us, may be vital to others. Back to Second Corinthians. Have I gathered much? Yes.  Do I have too much? Almost certainly. This means that someone, somewhere, may have too little... simply because I am not living with open hands.

This is a sobering thought, indeed. Life is not nearly as cheap as my daily decisions often suggest.


Popular posts from this blog

On Losing My Virtual Footprint and Physical Ticket

Thirty years ago, the technology that just turned my digital world upside down was unimaginable. I was locked out of my Google account because I foolishly left a Google voice number as a two-factor authentication. So when I was logged out of all devices unexpectedly, I couldn’t receive text messages to prove my identity.  The thought of trying to describe this situation to someone in the 90’s is comical. What is Google? Two-factor authentication? A digital world? Similarly, I can’t imagine explaining that despite having a ticket, I couldn’t board a plane that had a seat for me because a computer wouldn’t print my youngest child's boarding pass. In pursuing security and efficiency, have we lost common sense?  Technology has changed the world so quickly that I am old enough to remember a time when manual workarounds were commonplace and young enough to expect a lot more change will come in my lifetime. I spent much of yesterday trying every possible means of recovering ten years of e

Giving through Christian Health Service Corps

We are now Christian Health Service Corps missionaries. We’ve had people ask about the best ways to support us, which we will list below. Thank you for considering joining us on this mission!  If you have any questions we would love to hear from you. By Check Make payable to:              Christian Health Service Corps or CHSC Memo line:                             Project Number #176/Helm Mail to:                       Christian Health Service Corps PO Box 132 Fruitvale, TX 75127   Via Bill Pay Set up an automatic Bill Pay instruction through your bank/financial institution with donations mailed to the address above, giving your “ Project Number 176/Helm ” as the account number.   Via CHSC’s Website – for credit card donations Donate online at: _ (Please note when donating online that the Recurring Frequency default is monthly .   Use the drop down box to choose your preference.    Also, when donating online,

If You Give a Perfectionist a Choice (and Other Reflections on Parenting)

  Ethan took the three older kids to a tiny-pandemic-birthday-party-in-a-big-space this afternoon. This is the first time the kids have left our apartment complex since mid-February, aside from visiting their brother in the hospital and attending a required interview at the Embassy. They were pumped. Like composing a tune and rocking out on the futon and/or sitting near the door with socks and bugspray on ready to go (personality-dependent division). The relative silence of the past hour turned me into Superwoman. I’m listening to classical music while eating baked oatmeal and writing a blog I had time to think about during my uninterrupted workout. Our baby is sleeping in front of our industrial-sized fan. The 90 degree-heat and unmentionable humidity can’t hold me back. I remember watching mothers of more than one child in utter amazement as a first-time mom just eight years ago. Did they have extra arms? Extra hours in their days? How did they do it? In the hospital last month