Overwhelmed with Needs: a Lesson from the Slums

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The ribbon of red dirt was littered with plastic bags and the gullies convinced us this should not be a road.

The houses were shacks and the creeks were sewers.

The children were as plenty as they were beautiful and they clung to our cracker-white arms like we were the entertainment of the day.

There was much to look at and we tried not to stare.

What do we do? How do we respond to a sea of needs? Where does this feeling of Overwhelmed send us?

Retreating maybe? Checking out because we cannot separate the feasible from the unattainable? Hiding from the broken because we don’t know where the repairs begin?

You have been there, as I have. Standing in front of the needs, we shake ours heads in resignation.

I learned something in that slum that settled my troubled, pessimistic heart. It is quite simple.

Value the one in front of you and keep walking.

Value the one in front of you. Look them in the eyes, see them for who they are, call them by name. Are we solving their problems? Not likely. But maybe recognizing their worth is far more important than we realized.

Value the one in front of you and keep walking.

We don’t have to run or jog or go anywhere fast, but friends, we can’t stay in one spot. After we have stopped for the one, we can do it for the next one we see. There are many eyes to look into and if we keep walking, we will find them.

Between FOX news, Facebook and our own neighborhoods and families, we encounter many more needs than our limited energy can handle. Refugees, sex slaves, the underprivileged, the incarcerated, the exploited. AIDS, war casualties, poverty.

Is your head spinning? Mine too.

What if?

What if we could shift our eyes from the chaotic stack of needs and allow the one closest to us to come into focus? What if we would start with that one right there? What if we would just walk over to them and notice the brilliance inside of them?

The first one may be sitting in the highchair in our own kitchen. The first may be in the house across the street or in the drop off lane at school.

When we start with the one, something shifts. Our despairing gives way to HOPE as we notice that we brought about change. We simply altered the atmosphere by valuing.

Friends, with that hope tucked under our arm, let’s keep walking. As I kept strolling through the slums this week, more kids caught up to us on the path, more smiling eyes met ours. It wasn’t hard to find the faces, they found us.

As we are busy valuing the one in front of us, we just might look up, surprised at the road we have walked.

The wide wonderful world starts with ONE. And we simply keep walking.

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