Girls need pampering now and then. Most of us include a few girly maintenance/stress-relievers in our budget: pedicures, manicures, massage, a bit of retail therapy.
I live a stressful life, in my opinion. My job puts me sitting at a computer for hours, causing stiffness. I’m raising teenagers while battling deadlines for books and freelance work. Juggling multiple projects, and facing uncertainty about how much my freelancing will earn each month. To improve my health and detox from stress, I treat myself to a massage once a month. With tip, it costs $74. For a number of reasons, I recently decided that luxury items are getting deleted from our household budget.
So I figured I could invest that $76 a month in stocks or bonds, to help fund college for my daughter. But then I felt God’s nudge to invest it in his kingdom.
What if I put half that money away for my girl, and used the other half to offer opportunity to another girl? What if I asked myself, what do girls really need?
Then I read Just a Minute: In the heart of a child, one moment … can last forever by Wess Stafford (President of Compassion International). He tells stories (many of which brought me tears) of key moments in the life of children. And I thought—how could I change the life of a child? Especially a girl. In the developing world, girls are considered a liability and if there’s only a little food, the boys will be fed first. If a family has funds for one child to go to school, the boys will also get first dibs on those resources. Girls are sometimes vulnerable in their own homes.
A report from the World Bank, Girls’ Education in the 21st Century: Gender Equality, Empowerment, and Economic Growth, states: “Women’s economic empowerment is essential for economic development, growth, and poverty reduction—not only because of the income it generates, but also because it helps to break the vicious cycle of poverty.”
Research has also shown that when you educate boys, they tend to leave their families and rural villages, taking their educated selves to cities to find jobs. But when you educate girls, they tend to stay in their home village—often starting small businesses, improving the life of their family, even the entire village. Most experts on poverty agree that educating girls brings more “bang for the buck” when it comes to economic development.
I realized that for $38 a month, I could sponsor a little girl through Compassion. I could “reduce stress” for someone else: stress of being hungry or abused, or not having clothes to stay warm. I could send a girl to school, and in that moment, change her life.
For $76, the amount I was spending on my monthly “stress relief,” I could sponsor two girls.
When my neck gets stiff, and my reflexive thought is, “I need a massage,” I want to think about how I define “need.” God’s asking me to stare my privilege in the face and maybe slap it. By sponsoring two little girls, I can keep them from far greater discomfort than I suffer. What do they “need”? In a world where girls are more likely to be abused, uneducated, or ignored, I am trading my luxury for their survival.
What can you buy for $38? A pedicure, maybe. Or a pair of pants or blouse, on sale at LOFT. A sweatshirt and yoga pants from Target. A purse at T.J. Maxx. Two overpriced coffees a week, for a month. Which of those do you “need”?
What would happen if we redirected our resources from luxuries we don’t need to girls who really are in need? What if, in the next minute, you decided to pack your lunch instead of eating out, or decided to wear last year’s jeans instead of buying new ones? And in that moment, redirected resources that could change a girl’s life?