I come from a very big family. I am the middle child of eight children that my incredibly amazing mother birthed. I am not sure how she did it but I sure wasn’t going to tell her where she should’ve stopped; she could’ve stopped before me and we know how that story would’ve ended. At any rate, growing up, my father was the bread winner while my mother took care of home; equally difficult jobs yet they both pulled it off quite seamlessly. My father was charged with feeding, clothing and protecting ten individuals including his self. He almost never complained, the key word there is almost. There is one memory I will never forget that has helped me shape the way I see assistance.
I remember one of his co-workers from the manufacturing plant coming over to our house for a beer with my dad one Saturday. They sat outside on the porch and talked about life and typical grown-up stuff. Outside of school, those were the best classes to me, eavesdropping on adult conversations; you can truly learn a lot. My father’s co-worker turned good friend said to my father “with all of those children you should probably get food stamps to help feed them”. My father turned and looked at him and I immediately recognized that look, it was the same look he would give us when we were in trouble. My father said to him “I can provide for my family, if I can’t afford it then we don’t need it. I’m not taking any handouts from anyone. We’re doing fine.”
I will never forget that day because I learned a few valuable lessons which I still practice today. There is a clear difference between needs and wants. I will always be able to afford my needs but I should be able to live without my wants. Many people have difficulty with that concept. I also learned the incredible amount of pride that one can have when they are able to provide for themselves and their family. I’ve never believed in hand-outs but certainly subscribe to hand-ups. If you are going to ask for assistance, it should be temporary and it should be to lift you up. No one should have anything hanging over your head because they’ve helped you out. Do for yourself or live without it.
Finally, I learned that although we didn’t have much growing up, we had more than we needed. Yet in still we were always giving to others. I truly believe that is how people receive, through giving. The more you give, the less you’ll need. The less you need, the more you’ll have to give.
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