I Have Nothing.
I am Happy.
Words by Katrina Martin
The moment felt utterly surreal. I was
perched on the helm of a long-tail boat,
listening to soft Thai reggae and watching
the sunrise over the turquoise waters of the
Having somehow impressed our boat driver
the previous day with my less-than-im-pressive ability to speak Thai, my friends
and I had been invited to forgo dingy yet
expensive accommodation on Koh Phi Phi
and instead spend the night on the boat.
Long-tail boats are nothing glamorous;
they are essentially glorified canoes with a
questionable motor strapped to the rear. We
slept on the wooden floor with life jackets as
pillows, lulled to sleep by the senseless Thai
chatter of the drivers and the gentle rocking
of the waves.
It was an unforgettable experience – certainly one that you pull out during backpacker sharing time. Yet my excitement was
sobered when I realized that for the drivers,
this was not some rich cultural experience
but just another night.
Only as I watched them begin to boil rice
over a small stove did I realize that this
boat, no more than six feet wide, was their
home. For months at a time their lives are
packed into dry bags and stored beneath the
wooden benches they sleep on.
They crouch and climb, pack and
unpack, are at the constant beck
and call of the tourists, and at
the end of the day have not made
more than $12.
The night before we had sat on
the floor of the boat, wrapped in
a heavy cloak of darkness lifted only by the
light of a small lantern and the thousands
of stars above our heads. Stumbling along
in a variation of Thai and English, I asked
them about their lives.
Ameen, our round and sprightly driver,
nonchalantly explained that he sends
nearly everything he makes to his mother
in Bangkok. “I have nothing!” he laughed,
throwing his hands in the air. “I am happy!”
And I believed him. I believed him more
than I believed the obviously posed laughing
pictures on social media, or the ubiquitous
advertisements apparently offering a
perfect life along with whatever the product
I believed him because I have had a closet
overflowing with clothes I never wore, and
a makeup bag worth more than what these
drivers make in two weeks, and still I had
never felt the presence of Jesus as acutely as
I did at that moment, with those who had
Materially speaking, Jesus and His disciples
also had nothing. They relied on the generosity of others for their earthly needs, and
did not even have a bed to call their own.
Yet as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6: 10, they
were “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor,
yet making many rich; having nothing, and
yet possessing everything.”
Trying to live a simplified life is an arduous
journey of severing the redundant and
resisting the shiny things. However, having
lost everything of this world we are still able
to say, “I have nothing. I am happy.”
What does being a Christian mean to you? Seeing
this world not just as it is, but as it could be through
the grace and love of Jesus.
Jesus and His disciples also had nothing.
They relied on the generosity of others for
their earthly needs, and did not even have
a bed to call their own.