I sandwich a thick slab of clothes between my hands and lift them, hangers and all, from closet, plop them on bed. Grace and I sort through them. This shirt is stained. These pants are too small. We dump drawers, make three mounds–keep, toss, give away. The first is the highest. And this is just at my house.
Really, she doesn’t need a thing, but she tells me that kids look at two things on the first day of school. “They look at your desk, and they look at your clothes,” she says. “I need to look cute.”
My gut churns.
She has plenty of jeans and T-shirts. I’ve told her two or three new outfits. That’s it. And shoes. Her name-brand tennies are trashed and her toes touch the tips. She’ll also need new soccer shoes and soon new basketball shoes.
(Turns out she won’t need new soccer shoes after all since she fractured her clavicle in practice Tuesday.)
We’re in her favorite store now where stuff is all 40% off. It’s called Justice. (A play on “just us,” I think.)
Justice. It strikes me ironic.
The place is alive with tween girls who carry around armloads of ruffled skorts and layering shirts.
She flounces from rack to rack, holds things up, tries things on. She spins, turns, bubbles. I make a couple suggestions, but she rolls her eyes. So I stand back against the wall and try to fathom my feelings.
Why am I not having fun?
Others are making money, I tell myself, because I’m spending money.
I comfort myself with the store’s “supply chain transparency” statement that promotes clean production practices.
I ordered some clothes from Alden’s catalogue with my waitressing money the summer before tenth grade. “Do you really need those?” my mom asked. I think she was teaching me to think, but those words squeezed a lot of joy out of that lime green pleated skirt and matching V-neck sweater.
And the words continue to haunt me.
I think of Nduta, the girl from Kenya we sponsor through Compassion International. She doesn’t have a closet. She doesn’t need one. Sometimes she buys a new pair of shoes or a skirt and top with money we send.
Is it wrong to indulge in a little shopping spree when others walk barefoot with growling stomachs? I don’t think so, but I can’t brush away the faces.
She falls in love with a pair of Hello Kitty shoes. At $40, they cost less than a one-month child sponsorship, but we buy them. There’s a second pair of shoes she wants. The price of those, I tell her, would support Nduta for two months. We don’t buy them. I do buy her a $20 pair of flip flops on sale for $7.
And I worry that I say words that will haunt and steal joy.
She wants a hat. It costs a few dollars. I buy it. I’ll give up that Apple Cider Yankee Candle I thought I might buy on the way home.
I think of how little I sacrifice in order to share with another. And calculate how little I’d need to give up in order to give more. How I have more than enough.
How does more than enough become enough?
When I get home, I go here (I dare you to click) as I often do.
Sometimes I bring Grace with me. We might look for someone with her name, for someone with her birthdate, for today’s birthdate, for those who’ve waited way too long. We pray over sweet faces. That they will find Jesus. That some special someone will find and love them.
We pray for enough. Just enough.
Maybe you’d join us? And maybe, just maybe, one of the faces will tug hard at your heart.