Over the weekend we attended a fundraiser for the Bolingbrook Christian Health Center. The center provides medical care for people without insurance, and God is doing amazing things there. My friend, Sue, is the director of the clinic; she’s just an ordinary Mom, really, with this amazing passion for the underserved in our community.
Anyway, if you know me at all, you know that I love to cook. Big crowds, little crowds, even preschoolers—I enjoy feeding people. So I’m in the planning stages of designing a cooking class for the clinic. One of the things Sue sees over and over are busy families existing on non-nutritious food because they don’t know any alternative. They shop at Aldi, which is jam-packed full of inexpensive junk food, and fill their carts with chips and crackers and fruit punch.
I went to Aldi on Saturday, and as I shopped, I found myself pitying people who have to shop there all of the time. I missed my well-lit, clean, upscale grocery store. While I scoured the perimeter of the store for nutritious food choices, I wanted to shout, “Hey! Frozen vegetables are over here for only 69 cents!” And I realized how deep-down critical I am of people who feed their kids a steady diet of junk and fill their bottles with Hi-C.
I pray that my pity will be replaced by genuine compassion. And as I prepare these low-cost meals for my own family this week, I pray for empathy and understanding to replace my critical attitude. It’s easy for me to put on my helping-the-poor hat and feel really good about myself for getting involved; it’s much harder for me to identify with the poor and live among them. My challenge as I plan these meals? To feed my own family the same stuff. To lower our food budget and, for a time, live within difficult perimeters. It’s not the same, but I pray God would use this season to enable me to connect with people I don’t normally connect with.