Welcome to another brand New Year!
Most of us have begun setting new goals and seeking better opportunities to change our life around that would give us a sense of fulfillment.
Sometimes, the thing we thought would improve our quality of life ends up causing more havoc. Why?
The following story can help make us reflect on our own intentions as we move forward in our lives and get to the heart of what really matters.
Two years ago, my husband and I had the privilege of helping our friend in Nicaragua organize one of the biggest New Year’s day events for over five hundred children.
Since we couldn’t be there this year, we checked in with him to ask about this year’s event. That’s when he told us this true thought provoking story he recently experienced.
One day, he went out on his motor bike. It broke down on his way back, about two hours away from his house. He had to wait for the next day to have someone come to fix it. He walked ten minutes to a nearby unprivileged neighborhood to get food before calling someone to come get him.
A woman from the neighborhood recognized him from one his events and offered that he stay the night with her family. He had super with her, two other women from the same street and the women’s children. After super, he noticed the woman of the house place the leftovers on the kitchen counter. The next morning, the leftovers were still on the counter in the heat surrounded with flies. The woman explained that the leftovers were for her four children’s lunch. She also mentioned that the children often got sick when the food had gone bad.
The next day, he got his motor bike fixed and went back home. He couldn’t get those children out of his mind. He wanted to show his appreciation for the woman’s warm hospitality. He bought a small fridge with a built in freezer and brought it to her. The woman was so happy. “Thank you,” she cried. “You have no idea what it’s like to see your children get sick.”
Three months later, he went back to the same neighborhood to invite the families to his New Year’s day event. The woman, whom he had given the fridge to, ran to him in the street. “Please, please, invite my children,” she said sobbing. “Don’t leave them out. I stopped selling the ice. I’m so sorry.”
Confused, the man asked what she was talking about.
The day when he brought her the fridge, she got an idea. She was able to fit five trays of water in the freezer and placed an “ice for sale” sign on her clothesline pole. On the days when she didn’t go to work in the city, she easily sold four to five batches of five trays of ice in her neighborhood. This put her in a slightly higher class compared to the other families. She had an extra income of about $3 US on good days.
One day, she got back from work and went to the freezer to make a sale. She was shocked to find the five trays empty. She called her children and asked if they knew what happened. Her seven year old son said, “Mommy, I gave the ice to my friends, they were hot from playing outside.”
The woman scolded him. “You can’t give it away. We need it to get money for our food.” The boy looked at her and said, “But mommy, the nice man gave us the fridge for free. You always told us that we must share with our neighbors. Now, we have something we can share with everyone, why do you want money from them?”
The woman ignored her son’s question and continued selling the ice.
“I should have listened to my son,” the woman cried to our friend. “He was right. We have always looked out for each other in this neighborhood. Now, no one treats us the same anymore. They feel we are separate from them. The other day, the church sent volunteers to give Christmas presents to the children. When I asked why my children were excluded, they said that we are not at the same status as the others. It’s not so much about the presents; my children feel they no longer belong. Selling the ice was not worth all this. We were blessed to have been given a fridge. I should have shared that blessing with the people who have always been there for me. The money didn’t give us a better quality of life; it separated us from the one thing that truly mattered. I have apologized to my neighbors and let them know we will share the ice. But, please sir, let my children come to your event. It was my dormant greed that blinded me, not theirs. They always look forward to your events.”
Our friend invited her children to his big event.
What do you think? Can seizing an opportunity wreak havoc in our lives when we move away from the heart of what really matters?