More Than One Type of Poverty

Today’s blog is not focused upon Christmas or the Christmas season but upon something that I am currently dealing within my own life. I hope it will be a source of encouragement to those of you who can possibly relate in one way or the other.

In life, there is More Than One Type of Poverty.  For the most part, we in America attribute poverty as meaning a lack of financial resources and/or materialistic gains.  We think of someone living in poverty as being a poor person having little to no income who struggles daily to maintain food, shelter, and raiment for themselves as well as their immediate family.  God have mercy on those who struggle in this type of devastating poverty. 

Financial poverty is a devastating type of poverty that can sadly be handed down from generation to generation until the chains are broken either through acquired skills, education, improved health conditions, seized opportunities, positive social contacts, or good fortune turns things around.  Oh, how blessed and grateful these things are within our lives.

No matter the circumstances, poverty of any type leaves scars to bear. One definition for poverty is actually, “the state of lacking…”  Using this particular definition, I began to “ponder” the many different social, emotional, and physical things people can “lack” within their lives besides financial securities. 

People can “lack” the joys of fellowship and friends.  People can “lack” confidence to achieve in certain areas.  People can “lack” social, cognitive, or physical abilities. People can even “lack” family.  And, people can “lack” knowing God as their personal Savior.  For the latter area of “lacking,” it is my prayer that no one will ever lack the opportunity to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  (John 3:16). 

For me, I have an area of “lacking” in my own life.  I am an adult only child. I “lacked” having siblings and close contact with children my own age while growing up.  Some refer to it as the “only child syndrome.”  (Not very flattering!)  Yet; not only was I an only child, but I was ten years older than my first cousin on my father’s side and I only saw my cousins on my mother’s side during the holidays.  I suppose this is why “holidays” of any sort still mean so much to me even today…

Oh, as a child, how I looked forward to having people my own age in my life; someone to run, play, skip, jump, talk and laugh with. It wasn’t always fun being around all the “adults” in my life. I tend to believe this is why it is difficult for me to just let “loose” and have more fun and enjoyment in life. I’m not sure sometimes that I even know how!  But, even at fifty-five years old I’m working on it!  

Without acquiring the normal daily social and emotional skills learned from having siblings, I sometime struggle in adult relationships as well as family relationships. I don’t always know how to express myself without coming across as being selfish or how to accept the chosen actions of others without it hurting my feelings.  To add insult to injury, my father constantly threw it in my face that I was “spoiled” because of my being an only child. He was determined to be harder on me to “make up” for the fact.  This resulted in low self-esteem issues…May I add…how was this at all my fault??!! Yet, I was made to feel guilty and “different” from all those around me.

People, especially extended family members, tended to believe that because I was an only child, the world “revolved” around me. And, in many ways it did…but what they didn’t realize or understand was that it revolved in both a positive and negative way!  Also, it seemed the “negative” ways, errors, or mistakes in my life were magnified and outnumbered those of my cousins or peers. I was just “expected” to do everything right the first time!  And, as research shows it takes several positive actions to overcome one single negative reaction.  So, as an only child the “negative” actions surrounding my life were actually magnified and relived many times over.

Now that I am an adult, I actually enjoy being alone with my own thoughts. I suppose this is one big reason I enjoy writing!  After all, I was very accustomed to being alone and talking to no one except my stuff animals and baby dolls! And, I could make them say exactly what I wanted them to say!  But, we all know this is not real-life…not reality.  I believe this is why having siblings is so important to the development of healthy, proper social and emotional skills in life.  Some free advise….Even if you are a parent to an only child, you can always provide other means of social contacts that include added opportunities for shared-experiences with other children; such as sports, church functions, and community activities.  The sooner the better!

I tend to hurt deeper and take things more personal and serious than my other family members. After all, during my developing years I was a party of “one” who pretty much had to use my own reflective thoughts to process any given circumstance or situation in my life.  So, things have a way of being more important to me; even the so-called little things.  I tend to want and seek out perfection in my life. This often carries a load of stress with it that can be harmful to my emotional health. I have had to “learn” to not expect so much out of myself as well as others.  But, being an only child reared by a father who expected perfection makes it an ongoing process for me to achieve. But, with God’s help…I will overcome!

So, in retrospect, I believe “only” children have a scar of “poverty” from the lack of sibling contact and experiences.  As only children, we almost feel a sense of “rejection” from life itself.  So, I shall coin the phrase, “Only Child Poverty;” to which I am a victim. 

In my mind, what is the cure for the inward loneliness that thrives within my soul?  Answer…to maintain close family ties, close and understanding friends, companionship, acceptance, and unconditional love.  These things I value very much and feel very lonely and rejected when they are not readily available in my life.

Oh, the scars from the many types of poverty people face.  Today, you may have an area of poverty in your own life.  An area of “lack” that sneaks in and robs you from the joys of daily life.  But, I have good news.  There is a promise of Hope for all of us…for both only children and those with tons of siblings!  One blessed future day those of us who have accepted the fullness of Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives will never experience any type of poverty again, whether it be financial, social, physical, cognitive, or emotional! All of our heart’s desires, needs, and abilities will be forever met!  What a Day That Will Be!  Also, one wonderful concept for me personally….There will be NO “only child” in Heaven.  Amen.

Remember God Loves You!

Lin T. Rollins, Author

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