There’s a drastic difference between a family living below the median U.S. household income and a family living below the poverty line. At the Rayburn house, living under that median income means having to buy groceries at Aldi’s, not being able to repair a second vehicle, or utilizing the laundromat because an appliance breaks, but it doesn’t mean having to choose between buying groceries for our family and paying the electric bill. My heart goes out to families who make truly tough decisions like this everyday.
My husband and I both grew up in low-income families. Aaron learned to adapt to missed meals and some years, no Christmas presents. At my house, we have my mom’s creativity in the kitchen and programs like WIC to thank for keeping seven people fed in the tougher seasons. As a young child, I was blissfully ignorant to the financial status of my own family. Then one day, you reach an age where it becomes difficult to be labeled as the family that local churches bestow Christmas food baskets or people send your parents money so you can buy school clothes. It’s suddenly embarrassing to pay for lunch with a meal ticket that screams that your cafeteria hamburger and mushy green beans were free. The worst day of school is the first day back from Christmas break, when you have nothing exciting to report about your Christmas gifts that can compete with your friends. And talk about the torture of having to wear off-brand clothing and sneakers while walking the glaring halls of junior high. Oh, adolescence…how fickle and superficial you are. I know it must have been tough on my parents to listen to the wishing and hoping of five children knowing that more often than not, you would have to disappoint. My heart breaks for those younger versions of my parents. Nothing makes you appreciate the hard-work, patience, and resiliency of your own parents more than becoming a parent yourself. I am in awe of the tenacious spirit that allows them to be the sweet, caring people that they are even after continuous decades of financial difficulty. I know that they would give all the credit to faithful prayers, the help of others, and God’s faithfulness.
I am so honored to give our children the gift of wonderful Christ-following grandparents (and they are young grandparents, so Eyre and her sibling(s) to be should have many years to enjoy them!) I never would’ve guessed that as an adult, I would NEED my parents so much! I guess that is something you never outgrow. I continue to lean upon their support and wisdom as I navigate life, marriage and parenthood. They truly are a reliable, time-tested and approved source for encouragement. And as my parents celebrate 31 years of marriage this week, I pray that they can delight in that achievement! It is truly a special testament to their character, God’s healing, and their commitment to each other.