the list

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To anyone else, it is just a list of names and figures. Meaningless and arbitrary. Uninteresting.

To me, it is my lifeline.

Twice a month it comes in an email. I print it out and sort through, entering numbers into little boxes in spreadsheets and punching the buttons of calculators.

My income isn’t one round figure that perpetually appears in the columns of a pay stub. It’s not a number that computers spit out after sorting through electronic time cards. It is the sum of dozens of gifts. It is an amount I personally sift my fingers through. It is a number that ebbs and flows each month, adding a breathless aspect to discovering what it will be this time. Somehow, that changes everything.

You don’t take it for granted. You don’t view it as something you earned and expect. Every time I look at that list, I am a little surprised there are still names on it. A little relieved. And completely baffled that anyone would agree to give me money. Every month.

There are some whose names I can’t read without them growing blurry through tears. Those who I know really can’t afford it but give anyway. Those who don’t believe in what I believe, but believe in me. Those who are so faithful each month.

All have given up something to be on this list. Maybe a dinner out. Maybe a tank of gas. Maybe a portion of their retirement. But something. And they’re doing it so I can do what I’m doing, which blows my small human mind.

I am grateful for every name and every number, regardless of which end of the scale it sits.

I spoke with someone recently about the phenomenon of giving up your paying job and asking individuals to pay your income instead. I struggled before saying, “It doesn’t make any sense.” Then I changed the subject because sometimes I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t completely understand it. I don’t know how to sort through the complexity of emotions I feel when reading that list in a few short sentences.

I do know this: God reads that list over my shoulder. In fact, He wrote it. It’s not really for me, that they give. That makes it easier to accept.

And I know to Him, that list is not meaningless or arbitrary or uninteresting. He treasures it as much as I do.


2 thoughts on “the list

    Sarah Mitchell said:
    July 20, 2011 at 7:57 am

    LOVE that one, Alisha. Beautiful.

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