Friday, July 15, 2011

Taking that first step.

I'VE BEEN THINKING about the day I jumped (crawled hesitatingly, really) onto the sponsorship wagon. And, to be trite and cliche-ish, my life changed forever.

Those of us who are Sponsorship Fiends often try to convince others by touting what we know: You will feel differently about yourself and your life, and even the world around us, when you are intimately connected with a little stranger in another country.

There's even research supporting this now: neuroscientists are discovering that the human brain is wired to make you feel good when you help someone else.

That's really amazing to me! Not only did God tell us to care for one another, he fixed it so that we'd feel really good when we did so!

I knew none of that when I signed on to sponsor Estefani. My focus was mostly on how my family was barely getting by, living as we are in an area of the country that is far too expensive for our income. I thought that people who went on mission trips were crazy people, and giving money for any sort of charity was only for people with "extra" money, whatever that was.

But I had been praying for God to "use me." That is a very dangerous prayer! It occurred to me that God often calls us out of our weakness: Moses the stutterer asked to speak for a nation; David the little kid asked to defeat the giant--over and over God shows that he is not intimidated by our lack. "So," I thought, "if I have a lack, it is financial. God must want me to give!"

The "little voice in my head" said to do it, and I knew better than to ignore it.

Estefani's information was there on the table. She was the same age as my youngest daughter, with almost the same name as my oldest daughter. I picked her card up, and was instantly in love. The compassion part of my brain must have started firing on all cylinders!

Looking back, a series of miracles occurred that kept us afloat and able to keep sponsoring. God was clearly involved in this mission of ours.

My Darlings!
We still struggle to pay the bills some months. We are paying off some debts much more slowly than I'd like. But we are rich beyond measure with our "extended family" of sponsored kids/women. If I get depressed or anxious, I've learned to simply think about them and pray for them--the best mood-enhancing activity I know!

To read more about the neurology of compassion, read The Compassion Instinct by Dacher Keltner. It's a series of papers about the human brain and compassion, forgiveness, kindness, empathy, and so forth. Easy reading, and exciting stuff!

If you have not sponsored a child, I urge you to take the leap. Listen to that little voice in your head (or in this blog), and click on the Compassion banner here... If you are already a sponsor, tell people how it makes you feel! (It's science!)

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