Mexican Domestic Goddess

A Few Thoughts on Poverty and Generosity

Jacqui Skemp2 Comments

This is in response to a beautiful post by Kristin Levine, which you can read here


When we were newlyweds, our car broke down and was no longer drivable. We had next to no money, and for almost two months we got around thanks to the generosity of friends and family. Fortunately, I was able to bus to school, but my husband had a forty-five minute commute and public transportation would have taken him two hours. Our good friends loaned us their car on the weekend so we could get to mass and do grocery shopping. A girlfriend of mine who worked at the same school as my husband would drive out of her way to pick him up and give him a ride. The parents of my husband’s childhood friend not only loaned us their personal vehicle, but they also rented a car and asked us to drive it for a while and let them know what we thought about it because they were considering buying one. Everyone should get a chance to drive a Fiat 500, because no car in the history of cars is cuter. Eventually a friend of mine sold me a rather junky jeep for practically nothing because he was leaving the country, and that thing lasted about a year longer than I expected it to.

Ah, the infamous Jeep. The driver side door only opened from the outside, and sometimes the window would freeze shut. It burned through a quarter tank of gas a day, and if memory serves me right, it cost almost $75 to fill up. But there was no car payment, so we called it a wash. I was very pregnant in the middle of winter the year the door decided it would not longer stay closed, as in the latch no longer did the latching it was supposed to do. The sun was exceptionally bright that afternoon, and it caused a rare midwinter thaw, so that the ice that was resting on top of the jeep started to melt. After I had managed to secure the door with twine so I could drive back to work, the melted snow started to seep into the car right where the windshield met the roof. It was raining inside our junky jeep, and tears were running down my cheeks and onto my pregnant belly. If you’re not laughing at that image, you should be. It’s absolutely absurd.

Instead of spending that spring break on a babymoon (just kidding, I can’t even imagine Ian agreeing to that) we spent hours on craigslist looking for a car. It was dinged up on the side, and the back door had to be manually locked and unlocked, but it worked, and it was efficient, and 6 years later it’s still serving us well. We are now a two vehicle family, completely due to the generosity of our parents, our family, and our friends who expressed no hesitation in their willingness to give to us in some form when we were in need.

When I read this article this afternoon, I was really convicted. Many, many people have been overly generous to us in times of need, both financial and emotional. I can’t say I have been as quick to give of my best, but I want to change that. We are not in a place to donate large sums of money, or time, but we are working hard to get to a position where we can bless others with any abundance we have. In the meantime, I know I can be generous with my time, love, patience, and choosing to assume the best of others.

The biggest problem with poverty is the shame that comes with it. So, when you give the best you have to someone in need, it translates into something much deeper to the receiver.

It means that they are worthy.

-Kristine Levine