Will you think with me?

A couple weeks ago, I went on a field visit with two of my coworkers.  We had been driving around on the motorbikes for a while, going to different villages and visiting with people so we decided to stop for a bite to eat.  My coworkers ordered some beef kabobs (the meat & spices used here are so tasty!) and pickled vegetables for us. I gobbled down the delicious food and asked my coworker, Sokun, how much I owed him for our snack.  He told me that I didn’t need to pay him but I insisted that I should.  He responded, “No, no.  Sometimes friends are more important than money.”

——————————————-

I was caught off guard for a moment, not expecting such a profound response.  The weight of his words seemed to ring in my ears for what felt like minutes.  After a little while, I felt embarrassed.  I wanted to reply, “Oh of course I know that, that’s why I’m here!” or something like that.  I didn’t want to be the stereotype of an American who is so materialistic and only concerned with money.  I quickly realized this was one of those moments that is just loaded with significance.

I sheepishly replied, “Okay, thank you” and we rode off to another village.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said.

I thought of my friend and college roommate, Allie, who loves finding the perfect gift for her friends & family.  When it comes to finding Christmas gifts, she starts doing research in the fall.  She scours every website and store until she find something that is perfect for that person. When she finds this perfect gift, she is never too concerned with the price.  She just wants to find a gift that will bring that person joy.

“Sometimes friends are more important than money.”

I thought of my small group leader form YAGM orientation, Sally, who shared with our group some of her thoughts.  She said that so often in the US, we unknowingly rank our relationships with people by the amount of money we are willing to spend on them.  For friends, we grab a coffee.  For close friends, we go out dinner.  For the best of friends, maybe we go on vacation together.  The closer you are, the more money you are willing to (and perhaps feel obliged to) spend on gifts.  She shared with us that her time as a YAGM in Argentina taught her that doing things like spending time in the park with a friend are so valuable.  Activities like cooking dinner together, going for walks in the park, and playing board games, allow us time to share with our loved ones and simply enjoy their presence.  Spending quality time with our friends and family is a wonderful way to show that we care, one that doesn’t require a price tag.

“Sometimes friends are more important than money.”

I thought about my own life, do I show the people I care about that friends are more important than money?  Do I buy snacks for my friends and coworkers, just because?  Do I take the time to search for gifts that my friends and family will truly enjoy, not just to check something off my Christmas to-do list?  Do I take time out of my day to check in with friends, just to see how they’re doing?  Do I put the people in my life before the busyness of life?

“Sometimes friends are more important than money.”

I thought about stewardship.  As a Young Adult in Global Mission in Cambodia, my life right now is entirely supported by gifts given to the church.  I have been given the glorious burden of constantly contemplating how I choose to spend the money I have been given.  Am I honoring God with this purchase?  How can I use this money in a way that will build relationships within my host community?  Am I being a good steward of the gifts that hardworking people like you have so graciously given to the church?

“Sometimes friends are more important than money.”

Ask anyone who’s ever been asked to give a Stewardship talk at church, money is not an easy subject to talk about.  It makes us uncomfortable.  So often in our world, money becomes a stumbling block in relationships between friends, families, neighborhoods, and churches.  A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to witness one of the many beautiful ways money can be used as a tool to build relationships, not tear them apart.

I haven’t stopped thinking about those wise, wise words my coworker said to me.  I don’t think I have even begun to understand the depths of his words.

Thanksgiving has passed, Advent is upon us, Christmas is coming soon, and I don’t think there could be a better time to share this story with all of you.  As we move through this holiday season, will you think about the ways in which we can use our money to honor our friends, family, & God as well as the ways we can cherish our loved ones more than our money?  Will you think with me?

– Amanda

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3 comments

  1. Kathleen Bacik · December 7

    You are so good at putting your thoughts in writing. You should write women’s retreat material. Merry Christmas with love, Kathy Frank Bacik.

    Like

    • Amanda · December 8

      Thank you very much! Well, I am surrounded by inspiring people and places so it isn’t too hard to do! Merry Christmas to you too! 🙂

      Like

  2. bishquist · December 8

    Thinking with you!!!
    And you honor your supporters sooo much with the paragraph about stewardship.
    “Am I honoring God with this purchase? How can I use this money in a way that will build relationships within my host community? Am I being a good steward of the gifts that hardworking people like you have so graciously given to the church?”
    Thank you for bringing us along with you! It is a great way to give back!

    Like

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