Looking Outside of Yourself

Sometimes it’s easy to focus solely on yourself.

My life.
My work.
My family.
My mortgage.
My problems.

These are all important things. To me.

Your list may be slightly different from mine, but nevertheless we all share the same inward focus on how our life is progressing.
This strikes me as being perfectly normal. There is nothing odd about wanting the best for myself and those surrounding me. But I have to admit to an itchy, scratchy feeling that bothered me for years. I don’t know when it started and I don’t know what started it. I know it was fed by my own conscience, and the judicial placing of television advertisements (who said TV doesn’t affect us?!).

One thing that did push that itchy feeling front and centre for me was a small parable I came across in a book (the name of which I have long since forgotten) about counting your blessings.

A young boy was feeling sad about having to wear his brother’s hand-me-down shoes. He felt that it was a terrible thing to suffer, as he was teased by other children for having to wear old shoes that were still too big for him. He confided this in his mother, who suggested that he consider himself very lucky indeed. It was possible, she said, to have worse things to worry about. She told him that there were people without feet in other, poorer places in the world, and that they have a much harder thing to live with than some teasing about their shoes. The young boy never quite looked at his hand-me-down shoes in the same way again.

It was a profound parable for me. I know it isn’t particularly profound in and of itself. There is always someone who is less well off that you are. Just like there is always someone better off than you are. It’s just the nature of things.

Finally, between the itching feeling, the TV advertisements and the parable I took some action. I scratched the itch.

A little over eight years ago, not too long after committing to a fairly chunky mortgage, I fulfilled my need to scratch. I fulfilled my need to help.

I became a Child Sponsor

His name was Justen. We chose World Vision. The children’s detail folders came from a couple of agencies, but the photographs of the World Vision child (Justen) showed a cheeky young boy, while the other looked sad and downcast.
We chose the cheeky boy and the upbeat agency.

My itch was finally being scratched.

Eight years later and that itch is getting a good scratching now. I can honestly say that it is the least painful and most satisfying way of spending my money that I have ever come across. If you buy at least one coffee and slice of cake a week from a cafe, you too can scratch this itch.

Trust me.
Your waistline, your heart and your conscience will thank you for it.
So will your sponsored child.

If you have ever thought about it, now is the time to act on that thought. Don’t wait. Poverty doesn’t. Neither does disease. Contact a reputable agency in your country, and scratch this itch with me.

2 thoughts on “Looking Outside of Yourself

  1. Hi! I do believe in helping others. It is my very understanding that the way we go about it is not right. I used to give to charity and I also did some work to help them. I was a FUNd raiser. Yes, it was fun to go ahead and do it.

    I liked your parable, understand and agree with you that there is always someone worst off. There is also something else: There is alwasy a better way.

    For centuries we had charities asking for help and fund. For me, the only make people feel victims. I want them to feel Victors. For this, it is better to “teach someone how to fish instead of giving them a fish”. I guess by now you get my point.

    Why do some people work so hard to achieve while other work so hard just to ask for hand out. I do not believe in charity. I believe in helping people getting out of this misconception about helping others.


    Michael J. Anderson


  2. Hello Michael,

    Thanks for your comment. What do you do now rather than give to a charity? Are you suggesting that entities like TEAR fund are better serving those in need of assistance? Or are you talking about working directly as part of a VSO organisation?

    Just curious for another person’s views on how we can help others.



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