This is a story about a rich little girl.
She was born in a privileged family. Both parents had engineering degrees and worked good jobs. Dad got to travel the world for work and Grandpa was pretty much a mayor. The rich little girl lived in the same neighbourhood that housed international politicians and she spent her infant years drinking imported European milk. Her parents sent her to an expensive kindergarten and hired a nanny to take care of her.
Her parents decided to invest in a better future, so they moved to a new country. They bought a big house with a huge backyard and decorated it with lovely furniture. But Dad had to teach himself an entirely new field to bring in decent income and Mom couldn’t find a job anywhere. They relied on the help of Dad’s friends. The little girl became a sister. They also relied on the government’s child benefits.
They were labeled low-income. They sold their house. They started renting one place after another. The girl grew up. She made friends. She chose Jesus. She chose university. She borrowed large amounts of money from the government to fund her studies.
She came out of school with a $30,000 debt and couldn’t find a full time job, so she lived with her parents and worked three part time jobs but still couldn’t earn enough to support herself. And sometimes she asked herself whether it was her fault for making wrong choices, or society’s fault, or the recession. She had never imagined this life when she was a rich little girl and wondered how she got here.
She went back to see the city where she had been wealthy. She saw rich young people with careers, prestige, and connections. She wondered whether she would have turned out like them if her family had not moved. And she wondered whether she would still have met her friends, or had a brother, or chosen Jesus, if she had stayed there, or if fate were such that she would have experienced the same things even if she had stayed. She never ended up deciding whether or not she liked her parents’ decision to move.
Then she found a full time job. It was a low-paying job but it was a big deal. She worked hard at this job and saved enough to paid off her debt quickly. A few years later she transferred to another department with a higher pay, where she could finally work in the field that she studied for. She found great joy in giving money to her family to pay the bills. Maybe her family would live in their own house again someday.
The first twenty-seven years of her life had been a story of riches to rags to riches. She did not deny that it was difficult. But she accepted that even in the lowest valley, having shelter, food, and water made her still wealthier than most people on the planet. Her riches taught her to never fear the rich, because she was like them. Her rags taught her to never look down on the poor, because she was also like them. For these two lessons she is very thankful.
She wonders whether the rest of her life will be more riches or more rags, or both. But either way her decisions will likely remain the same.
She will thank God.
She will live well.
She will fight hard.
This was a Facebook post that I wrote for (Canadian) Thanksgiving 2015. I did some minor edits and updates but it has remained largely the same. True story.