Too many forks.

I tried to smile. I really did.

Consciously thinking about smiling is a strange thing. Voluntary smiles rather than involuntary ones feel odd.

I could probably count the involuntary smiles that happened over the course of two hours on one hand and not use all the fingers.

I nervously smoothed my dress and wiggled my high-heeled feet. I played with my hands ferociously.  I regretted forgetting to take off the ponytail holder around my wrist. I think I noticed someone looking at it. But, that could be my imagination.

I tried to keep smiling. I did.

I sat with the Dean of Music, a student, and two other important men, I suppose.

I tried to seem interested as they babbled on about their expensive cars and money and who they were and such.

I tried to smile.

But, I just felt emptiness.

When the guest of honor (my scholarship donor), arrived, it was time to eat lunch.

The table setting had too many forks…too many spoons.

 Mrs. Hodges is quite adorable. A seventy-something decked out to the nines with the cutest southern belle accent you’ve ever heard. She talked non-stop and it made me smile–genuinely.

She talked about money. A lot. She talked about all that her family has donated to Samford (she and her friends have many buildings named after them). She talked about how when she married her late husband, he was making $25 a week, and, well, look at them now. It wasn’t arrogantly spoken or anything. That’s just what she talked about.

She asked the other recipient of her scholarship what he was planning on doing with his degree. He talked about his goals of traveling and studying abroad, grad school, etc. etc. With each word, the men nodded in approval and glee.

Then it was my turn to answer the dreaded question. I smiled and said, “I’m not sure what I’m going to do.”  I decided to leave it at that as to not go into how I’m not pursuing theatre or music. I kind of wanted to, but, I felt like avoiding the awkward of telling the woman giving me money to DO THEATRE that I have no interest in it anymore.

The Dean piped in, “Shara is a wonderful actress so, she’ll probably pursue something like Broadway”

I smiled. This was a voluntary smile.

I absent-mindedly coasted in and out of my inner thoughts and listening to theirs throughout the remainder of the luncheon.

I was thankful for the free meal, and a very nice one at that, but, I didn’t want to be there. I felt like I shouldn’t. I am very thankful for the scholarship, however I couldn’t help but feel like I was a disappointment by not having dreams of grandeur like they wanted me to.

Lots of talk about donors and people donating and who donated what. Yawn.

The question was asked of the Dean of how many countries had he performed at. He had performed at A LOT. My interest was sparked when he brought up Kenya and Uganda. He talked about the beauty of the countries and the specialness of the people. But, it bothered me for some reason that he spoke of them as more vacation spots, not really mentioning the fact that some of the world’s poorest people live in Kenyan slums and children and adults are dying daily in both countries from diseases such as AIDS and malaria and from the extreme poverty, and so many of the people are desperately in need of the Gospel. I suppose I can’t EXPECT someone to talk about such things, but, I guess I wished that that’s what people cared about…not how nice their hotel was or how pretty it was.

The Dean stated that he was sure I and the other recipient would travel the world because of our talents and such.

I felt like I was in the scene in Titanic, near the beginning, when we’re first introduced to the young Rose. She’s sitting at the dining table as the elite talk around her. You see her staring blankly, as the elderly Rose narrates,

“I saw my whole life as if I had already lived it. An endless parade of parties and cotillons, yachts and polo matches. Always the same narrow people, the same mindless chatter. I felt like I was standing at a great precipice, with no one to pull me back, no one who cared… or even noticed. “

As I looked intently into Mrs. Hodges’ crisp blue eyes and around at the gentlemen in their suits and bow ties, I thought about how much I didn’t want their world.  Sure, they had money and lots of nice things, had been afforded travel to hundreds of countries, and ate with too many forks and too many spoons…but, is that really going to matter when they die?

Perhaps you say, “That’s morbid”, or “It’s not a sin to have nice things”. No, it’s not. But, if that’s all that matters…I don’t know. I struggle with the concept of “rich”. I’ve never really until recently. I have a hard time justifying living an extravagant lifestyle when there are millions of people around the world who live on less that $1 a day. I feel as though even I live too lavishly. Sure, many wealthy people donate money and give people like me scholarships so we can afford to go to college. However, if you’re so well off that even giving millions STILL allots for you to live excessively, I have a difficult time believing that you shouldn’t be giving MORE. Nothing we have is ours. Nothing we have can be taken with us when we die. Think of all that could be accomplished if people lived generously. Of course, I can’t expect that kind of giving from someone who is not born again, but, I don’t know…I struggle with wealth.

After stories of the War and such…two hours later…

It was time to go.

Mrs. Hodges left us with saying something along the lines of–look where she came from, we can do it too. The Dean chimed in with wishes of success. Lots of success.

Success success success success.

Since that’s all that matters, right? How famous I become or fabulously wealthy I get?

Perhaps my brain took lunch today way out of proportion, but, I don’t know. I think we have such a twisted outlook on what a successful life looks like. I don’t think we live like Jesus wants us to live.

I don’t think we count it all as loss. as rubbish. as dung.

I think we hold onto life.

I think we love Jesus with our heads and we love money with our hearts.

I think we look at people who want to actually LIVE like JESUS lived and commanded us to live, and call them a bit ridiculous, or a bit much, or super “religious”, or evangelical, etc.

We’re okay with compartmentalized Jesus. He’s just a little part of our lives. Not actually OUR LIVES.

Jesus was radical.

We’re safe.

I was talking to my voice teacher about The World Race. I said if I were to go to Thailand or Cambodia or India, then I’d get to work with people trying to release women (and men) from the chains of human trafficking. He told me his daughter wanted to do that in Russia, but, he and his wife said it was too dangerous because she might have been trafficked herself.

That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. But, I thought…who cares? If I shared the love of Christ with ONE girl who had never heard of Jesus and who lived in despair and guilt and shame and hopelessness, and she accepted Christ as her beautiful savior, and I got hurt or trafficked or killed or whatever…all worth it.

Of course there’s a difference between just doing something dangerous and stupid for the sake of doing something dangerous and stupid, but, if we want to live safe lives, then we don’t want to be like Jesus. 

 to live is CHRIST and to die is GAIN.

If we hold our lives up as idols–something we desire, we love, we prize…then we are sinning greatly.

The first commandment is that you should have no other gods besides God.

Whoever loses his life… will find it.

So many people don’t have Jesus. I have Jesus. I should share.

…There are so many people in the world who don’t have forks. I had 3 today. I should share.

~Shara

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