This holiday season isn’t the same and perhaps it’s for the better. In an effort to remain connected to my colleagues and friends I recently joined a new group for Transformational discussions. We are meeting virtually. Our first discussion started with introductions and choosing our favorite Christmas song. When I shared my favorite song, I got the sense that nobody knew know what song I was talking about. No, it’s not a classic Christmas song. It was actually released 20 years ago by the group Avalon. It’s called Light a Candle. Check out this beautiful song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C38tJNwRbX8.
The first time I heard this song was probably 10 years ago when I was serving on the Worship Team at church. We were preparing to share it in a worship service during Advent. I love the lyrics of this song because they all talk about helping each other, one person at a time. Lyrics include “for the woman who is lonely, and every Christmas is the same…” “for the children who need more than presents can bring.”
In the past, when I’ve thought about helping people, I would help at the local food bank, deliver holiday meals to families, or buy gifts for a family in need. These are all great ways to serve each other and shouldn’t be limited to the Christmas season. I feel so blessed to live in a community that cares so much for others. My focus in loving and serving people has shifted this season though. Instead of feeding people with food, I’m endeavoring to teach people how to find food.
Time and time again, I watch families struggle to make ends meet. Many of them receive some form of assistance from local non-profits and government agencies to private entities. It causes me to wonder what is happening in their family that is preventing them from providing for their own familial unit. To some extent, I get it. I never learned how to “find food” on my own. Sure, I learned how to grocery shop, but I didn’t learn how to budget every dollar that I earned. I worked three part-time jobs while I was a senior in high school and was fortunate enough to have had some money set aside for my college education. I still managed to rack up a steep student loan debt while earning my undergrad degree because I didn’t know how to budget.
I’m now in my 40s and I didn’t learn how to do a zero-based budget until I was 33. I’m certainly grateful for the many gifts of employment and education. I really did not manage any of that money well and it caused a mammoth amount of stress in my life. Looking back, knowing how to do a budget could have prevented me from over-extending myself financially in so many ways that eventually led to filing for bankruptcy.
During this season of Christmas, I light a candle in honor of you, for the things you will learn and teach others. May we give the gift of learning. Instead of giving a someone a fish to feed them for a day, let’s teach people to fish, and feed them for a lifetime. (Matthew 4:19)