We were struggling to make ends meet after my parents’ divorce, and I was wrestling with the life-altering issues surrounding all those sudden changes. There was a horrible sense of loss.
Somewhere in the midst of that, I was asked to go with my youth director to visit the family of a teenager who had recently visited our church. We pulled up to a row of abandoned migrant shacks. It was cold outside, and I noticed smoke coming out of a pipe on one of those shacks…and a light flickering in a small window.
This was the home of the teenager and his family of five or six, as I recall. We walked into the tiny shack, and I remember vividly the shocking realization that they had dirt floors. They had one of those old chrome tables and a single chrome chair, which the father immediately offered to me. There was a metal can with a fire going to keep the place warm, a makeshift cooking area, and very little else. These folks were so poor, they were having to tear down the other shacks little by little to feed the fire that provided their only source of heat.
As I processed the stark reality of my surroundings, I began to see something else. I saw that the dirt floor had broom marks in it – indications that these folks did their best to keep even their dirt floors “clean”. Things were neat and tidy. But what I remember most was that these people had the warmest smiles and a deep, passionate love for each other.
Smiles and dirt floors…not at all what you’d expect. We’ve all heard the term “dirt poor”. Well, these folks were “dirt rich”. You see, they had figured out, in the midst of such dire circumstances, what really matters in life and what the real treasures are – they are the people in your life who love you.
I went home that night to fiberboard floors in our cold, unfinished house - and I realized how very rich we were. Not because we had floors…but because we still had each other.
During this holiday season, whether you are looking down at dirt floors…or hardwood…or marble – I hope you take a moment to look around and see the real treasures in your life.
Have a blessed holiday season!