Review of Chapter 10, “Back to Civilization”
by Christen St John
Chapter 10 starts off Part II of Too Small to Ignore with tales of sadness over losing friends, the “re-socialization” of coming back to America, the painful realizations that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ could flip flop at a small game of baseball and the traumatic story of helplessness felt at witnessing a terrible attack. However, out of all this heartbreak the “pearls of poverty” (as Stafford calls them) emerge.
There is the “The pearl of love.” Though you may have nothing – you will always have love. When you have nothing you become compelled by love as that is all you can give. Love in happiness, love in loss, love in hardship.
“The pearl of joy” is not dictated by what you have or have to face.
“It is a decision, a very brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.”
“The pearl of hope” comes when you decide to trust God with complete confidence that he knows what is best for us and that he hears our prayers.
The next is the “pearl of time perspective.” Those in need use time as a servant, they are not enslaved by time. Figuring out what is truly important should not be based on timeline, deadlines or favorite television shows.
The next two pearls are perhaps two of the most important, yet they also seem to be the hardest to grasp. The first is the “pearl of understanding” that “people matter; things don’t.” This is an extremely tough concept for us to grasp, especially as Westerners, as things are given a much higher value than people, and that is what we have been taught for years. In trying to achieve this pearl we should remember that “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt.6:21).
Lastly, we have the “pearl of knowing how to gave and receive.” We must learn to give selflessly. This task is particularly hard as things do seem to be our highest priority. We don’t want to sacrifice for the needs of others. And, as far as receiving goes, we are programed to believe that nothing comes for free, which leaves us skeptical and looking for the catch whenever someone goes out of their way for us.
These pearls are things that we should be striving to possess as they would make us more like Christ and therefore more apt to be Christ to others.
Once last thing that stuck with me about the chapter is this: the shock that Stafford felt when he entered his first American grocery store and drug store. The reality of it had never really hit me until I read it and could feel his pain leak off the page and into my heart. We are beyond blessed and yet to give selflessly seems to be an unfair request. I pray the next time I go grocery shopping or need medication (which will be readily available to me) I will remember the feeling I got when I read that part (pg.172-173). People die every day because we are so blessed, and because we are so greedy.