We walked down the hall and stepped onto the escalators. Then we rounded a corner and into an elevator with a kind young man who checked our passes to make sure we were allowed. I’m sure I didn’t have the look of someone who was allowed. Certainly not one who’d been let behind the curtain before.
We stepped off the elevator and into a lovely suite. They poured us drinks and offered us food and allowed us time to chat around a dinner table before the show. We happened to sit across the table from a nice couple. When I asked if he was in a law department, he humbly replied he was the CFO of a major energy company. We talked about his new twin grandchildren and then slipped out of the suite into our court side seats to await Adele.
I turned to our host as we walked onto the floor of the stadium to find our seats and shared how all this had me gobsmacked.
I am not fancy.
Now don’t get me wrong: I really like fancy, but I’m not fancy.
I actually make tuna noodle casserole. (And like it.) We’ll buy wine for less than $10 at the CVS. I might wear a sweater that’s piling because buying a new sweater isn’t that exciting or in the budget. We don’t eat out. We go on a vacation once every other year and it’s to national parks. And we certainly never go to mega concerts (because our kids being in private school is like a lifetime supply of concerts).
I grew up with just the basics.
People were kind to the kids of pastors. Food would show up along with new book bags in the fall. Later, people were equally kind to the kids of the divorced single mom active in her local church. Everything from ’80s pantsuits to Thanksgiving turkeys would show up on our doorstep.
All through high school and college I worked – as a maid and nanny and babysitter and secretary. I didn’t have a car until the month before I started work at a law firm after graduating from law school. If we took a Spring Break “vacation,” my mom scrimped and saved to take us to the Holi-dome in town (the Holiday Inn with a dome to accommodate the indoor pool), and the fanciest dinner I had was at the Red Lobster.
I am now in my 40s. Sometimes I think I’m a little fancy now. But I’m not.
I was the shy poor kid who worked hard and kept her head down. I never thought I’d be a lawyer. Or get married and have super cool triplets. Or go to work for a global energy company.
I certainly never thought I’d be hanging with a CFO in a suite before seeing a superstar.
And even though every now and then I stay at an upscale hotel or have a luxury business dinner, I never get over it. I still step out onto the concert floor agog and wide-eyed. Or I elbow my dinner mate to see if she saw the price listed next to the entrée fish, and I take pictures of my hotel room (oh yes, ask my girlfriends, I’ll text them a room picture with caption, can you believe this?).
So it’s important to me my kids understand how others live. How people like me used to live. It’s why we participate when our church has family serve events. They need to know we share responsibility to feed kids who don’t have meals on the table. They need to feel what it’s like to put their money into mission work that builds schools. We collect our best books and candy for donation drives and talk about why God calls us to share what He’s given to us.
That doesn’t come easily. When you grow up with needs and uncertainty, there is an inclination, at least for me, to hold onto everything out of fear of being without. But I am trying to change. And it’s easier to change now since I want to raise my kids to live generously. To naturally want to help others the way so many helped my family growing up.
I pray I never grow accustomed to fancy. That I have these experiences rarely enough to stay gobsmacked. And that I limit when and how much my children experience so they can know the same kind of wonder when blessed with a rare experience like a concert or an upscale meal or a travel adventure. I pray, even more, we would find even more joy in giving to others, than receiving ourselves. Gobsmacked and generous people.