I have been reading the book My Name is Child of God…Not Those People by Julia Dinsmore with a group from the congregation. Julia is a woman who grew up in the Twin Cities, facing numerous challenges including an alcoholic father, a mother with mental health struggles, and generational poverty. She does her best to navigate the social services system and advocate for the needs of her own children.
Our group wondered together what is it about Julia that has allowed her to survive some pretty horrible conditions? It is her resilience, her tenacity, her advocacy for what she needs. Not giving up is the gift that has gotten her through. And her gifts as a storyteller, poet and song writer have allowed her to share her story with a broader audience. A story that is all too common in a country that promises the American Dream to all. Julia writes,
“I’m neither a Republican or a Democrat. When it comes to public policy with regard to economic opportunity and the poor, the view from my window has always looked like this: Republicans expect us to pick ourselves up by our nonexistent bootstraps, and Democrats make the bootstraps so darn complicated they’re useless.” (p. 104)
And yet she perseveres. She combines faith with scrappiness and forges ahead. It makes me ponder how are we as Christians supposed to respond? The social services system and churches and nonprofits are filled with well-meaning people. Jesus says whatever you do to the least of these you do to me. We can’t fix the whole system, but how is God calling us to do our part?
Gracious God, we pray for all of those who are lacking food, clothing, shelter, health care, mental health services, caring relationships, advocates and so much more. Help us to see everyone regardless of their situation in life as your children, and not “those people.” Let no one be denied access to basic needs. Amen.
Blessings, Pastor Betsy