After I graduated from college with my education degree, I moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area where I taught school for 6 years. I prayed specifically God would place me in a school exactly where He wanted me to be and He did. I absolutely loved my kids and their families. I felt, unequivocally, that this was my calling.
I must admit though, a part of me felt sorry for one of my students, living in the home he did. I visited him at home frequently, just to get to know his family and their friends…This particular story is about a precious little boy and his faithful mom. One day after school, I went to James's home to visit with him and his mom, Karina. As soon as I walked into their run-down apartment, I immediately felt grimy. You know that feeling when you walk down a dirty alley and you haven't touched a thing but you still feel like you should wash your hands when you finally get out of there? I am ashamed to say that is how I felt in this apartment. The walls were covered in dingy gunk, the floors were stained, all of the grout in the tile was black from old food and muck and the faded lights were so dim that it was even hard to see my friend's faces clearly. I admit it. I felt really sorry for this poor family who had to live this way.
To give you a short background, I knew this family a bit. They were from Africa and I was already aware that they were believers. I really did love them, I just didn't love their home. I sat down on their discolored, second hand couch, and as I looked around the broken down room, Karina and I began to talk. After about 10 minutes of small talk, she opened up to me about living in Africa. She said she couldn’t even begin to characterize how dreadful the living conditions were in Africa. She talked to me about tiny huts with thatched grass roofs, no electricity, dirt floors and when it would rain, everything would leak. There weren't any sturdy walls to hang pictures and no way and no reason to keep anything of any value. Then she paused, kept silent for a while and slowly looked around that icky, small, low income apartment... and then looked back at me, spread her arms out in pride, and with tears in her eyes, she said, “But look at us now, Lauren. Look at us now.”
She, my friends, was living in a palace. What a perspective. She saw God's goodness in everything. She is the purest form of "Godliness with contentment is great gain." I then looked around her apartment again, but this time with a different perspective. I could see her home through her eyes and indeed it was a royal residence. This home meant stability, it meant air conditioning and heating, it meant a floor that might get dirty, but would be easily cleaned, it meant a dishwasher, a refrigerator and many nights to sit around with her family in safety. This home was a gift from the Lord and she was ever praising Him for it. I shut my eyes and prayed that the Lord would forgive my judgmental view and would give me a "Karina-like" perspective in my own life. For I too desired great gain through godly contentment.