Real Poverty - Anna Edgar’s Storyby Erin Stringer
My story begins when I was five and my father left. My parents were separated for a few years before the divorce, but our financial poverty began when he walked out.
Taking my brother with him, my mother was left with four girls to raise alone. Although my mother worked incredibly hard to provide for us, she couldn’t. For us, daily life was full of tension and a feeling of being unsettled. We were taught to never answer the phone because creditors were calling. The threat to foreclose on our home, turn off our electricity, or impound our car was commonplace.
As an athlete, I noticed that my friends had name-brand attire, and they appeared not to struggle paying extra money for club teams and tournaments. When they went to the grocery store, they paid with credit cards or cash while my family used food stamps. They had fathers who came to every game while my own father sometimes attended one game a year. My circumstances embarrassed me. And yet, in the midst of my struggle, my heavenly Father saw me. He knew my heart. And He provided exactly what I needed - support.
My mother possessed an incredibly pure and child-like faith that she often verbalized.
She would say,
“I don’t know how we are going to get through this, but the Lord will provide.”
Similarly, my oldest sister was an incredible rock in my faith journey. She not only spoke Biblical truth and became a second-mother to me, but she also prayed continually for me.
Outside of these two strong women, the Lord also provided our family with a faithful group from our small, baptist congregation who became our second family - holistically meeting so many of our needs. They provided us with encouragement, meals, guidance, groceries, friendship, school supplies, countless prayers, Christmas gifts, study help, and the support that we needed to survive these years in poverty.
One gift, in particular, stuck with me. A couple learned that I adored playing a borrowed school flute. They went out and purchased one for a hundred-dollars and presented it to me as a gift. I was speechless. The dollar amount alone was extravagant, but even more amazing was the fact that they would lavish this kind of expense on me.
Who was I?
I was insignificant.
Yes, I believed that. Life had taught me that I was insignificant. And yet, this couple thought that I was worth something. To this day, I still have this flute as a reminder that my heavenly Father has given my life significance. I am His, and that makes all the difference.
I realize that for many of us, our definition of poverty is “a tangible lack of finances”. But I have learned that physical need is only one facet of poverty. Poverty affects the whole person - emotions, thinking, and beliefs about the world and himself. Rich or poor, we all suffer from poverty. While I may have looked at my life and said that I desperately needed food or school supplies, my affluent neighbor may have looked at his and admitted that his family was falling apart and he was lost.
Whatever our circumstances, we all suffer from an inner brokenness that only Jesus can heal.
I am incredibly blessed to know what need looks like, and I would not change my story if I could. I have become who I am today because I have had a lifetime of walking with my Father, trusting in Him to provide for every need. And He is faithful. Ever faithful.
Story by Anna Macke
Photography by Jessica Tinkle
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