The Stock Photo

My boys go to a very good school. An awesome school. It is actually one of the best in the US. This school gives out millions of dollars in financial aid each year. Our sons are the recipients of a very small (one could describe it as "wee") amount of aid. Nevertheless, we are still the minority in a sea of wealthy students and families. I think I am the only one that views us as "not like them". It's my own insecurities. I knew that as they got older, it would become more and more apparent that we were not as wealthy as their classmates.

Both kids needed to bring a picture of our house for an art project. We, of course, live in seminary housing in the ghetto a not so good part of town. With hesitation, I sent the picture to school with a note saying, "I'm sorry; this is the best I could do....we live in an apartment..." (to which I got a reply from one of the K teachers, "It's perfect." Sigh. Everyone needs a Mrs. Summit in their life!) So Griffin took his picture in and his wonderful teachers worked with him and he came home before Christmas with a painted and matted picture of our house. It was heartfelt and warm, and I loved it.

A few days ago I asked Tucker what they were doing with his picture. Until then, it hadn't really occurred to me that he hadn't brought anything home. He said, "We couldn't use my picture. They had to use a stock photo of a house for me and Anajae."

Gulp. Don't cry. Don't get mad. Don't be embarrassed.

I know that we are where we are for a reason. God called us to seminary. We are lucky, even.

But there is, of course, a small (ok, maybe not so small?) part of me that is sad that we don't live uptown, in some great historic house that was built in 1920. I'm sad that we struggle month to month to pay our bills. I'm sad that we can't send the kids to sleep-away summer camp this year. I'm sad that we are stressed beyond recognition over whether or not we will be able to send them to this very same school next year. I'm sad that we only have one vehicle and I can't even pick up an extra shift because, well, I have kids in school and no one to pick them up.

What makes me sadder than any of these things is that I am actually sad. It's ridiculous, really. We are rich in more ways than I can count. I know it sounds cliche', but we are. We are all (reasonably) healthy. Two of my three children have accepted Christ as their Savior. We live in the greatest nation in the world, in one of the best cities in the world. (Seriously. Have you been to New Orleans? It rocks.)

What makes us richer than anything, though, is that we have life in Jesus. We can live victoriously, knowing that He conquered death and sin. Jesus said that He came to give us life, and live abundantly.

I am not living abundantly when I spend hours ruminating over the stock photo, or the thought that Tucker's teachers didn't think our apartment (or Anajae's, bless her heart) wasn't "good enough."

Our apartment may not be uptown, and it may not be spacious or even pretty, but inside it....ahhh....inside it is home. It is where a family of five people come together every night and love one another and share their stories and struggles, laughter and tears. It's where Anne Claire came home from the hospital. It's where the boys learned to ride bikes. It's where Griffin learned to write his name, and Tucker became such a great swimmer.

So yeah, while I wish some things were different, some things I wouldn't change. For anything.

My ultimate goal? It is not to live uptown, or to drive a nice car (though, dang, that would be nice!). My goal isn't even to be able to pay for another year at Isidore Newman.

My goal is this: ..."to be content in any and every situation." (Phil. 4:11-13)


His Girl said...

awww, I totally get what it's like to be the 'poor' family in school. We've been in a very affluent private school and in comparison been embarrassed by our car or our home.
(my son's going to a school that's in a very impoverished, rural area this year... such a culture shock for my son!)

You're right though, it's about where our hearts are... and contentment certainly can't be based on where we are located, truly truly. Great reminder!

*by the way, I hope there's a backstory to them not using the photos the kids brought. otherwise, that was seriously a trashy thing to do to a kid. Way to make a kid feel ashamed. That would like my kids bringing in a picture of their mother and them using a stock photo instead. rude.

Robin said...

I love your heart, girlfriend.

Tiffani said...

This is so good, girl. So honest. I can so feel your heart. I have many of the same feelings that you do just in a few different situations...

I love it when God allows us to just be raw and honest and yet still gives us that comfort and hope and perspective that keeps us right under His wing.

Vernon Family said...

All I can say is AMEN!!! You say it so well...Thanks:)

Jen said...

Amber -- I haven't even asked his teacher what the reason was. Like I said, Griffin's teachers were incredibly generous and he came home with a great piece of art! I don't know why I haven't asked the teacher -- embarrassment on my part? Not sure. And yeah, way to make a kid feel special...(insert eye roll here)

care-in said...

With tears in my eyes I am relating to every part of this...seminary, apartment, car, school. As much as I want for more a friend reminded me that we are stable...and that is so true and something to be thankful for. I feel so out of place even in carlines and when it comes to having friends over but I can say that our house is a home.

Thank you thank you thank you!