Trailer Trash

By Steve Austin | faith

Jan 25

My Dad owned a mechanic shop in our tiny, rural Alabama town.

My Momma kept this kid whose Momma worked at the bank for $1/hr.

Everyone was poor, unless they lived on the river. Or worked for Alabama Power.

I wasn’t that lucky.

We went to garage sales, not because my parents wanted to find treasures like they do on “American Pickers“, but because we were poor. You know how some kids get new school clothes every Fall? So did I, but mine were from the Thrift Store.

We washed clothes and bathed at my Grandparent‘s house sometimes, because the power and water had been cut off.

Sometimes we went quite a while without a phone.

I remember vividly, being about six-years-old, and it was the first day of baseball practice. We had been lucky enough to find me a pair of decent cleats at the Thrift Store, and I’m certain they were too big. Dad always picked them too big, so that I would “grow into them”. (He didn’t have the money to buy a pair of shoes in every size.) Anyways…we walked out to practice that day and one of the “Alabama Power” Moms said, “Oh Steve, new cleats? Where’d you get those?” It’s funny that she even noticed them…I’m sure she had to turn her nose down a few degrees to see them. Without thinking, I responded excitedly, “We got ’em at the Thrift Store!”

I don’t know if Momma hung her head in shame or not. No. I know she didn’t. She probably held her head a little higher, even if her heart sunk.

Speaking of Momma–she would iron my clothes: jeans, shorts, t-shirts (probably drawers too). You name it, she ironed it. It didn’t matter if we were poor and my clothes cost $0.79 off the Goodwill rack, she was determined for “her baby” to look good. We might have been poor, but we weren’t going to act like it.

I wonder how many nights my Momma cried…

I wonder if my Dad was ever embarrassed when he would have to call one of the “Alabama Power” Dads to come turn our power back on…

We lived in a trailer in my great-grandparents’ yard.

We lived in a trailer, but we weren’t trash.

Labels lie. Don’t use them. Don’t accept them.

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. (1 Cor. 12:25-26…read 13-31 when you have time)

You are needed.  You are loved. 

You are uniquely wonderful. 

I’m thankful that my parents instilled in me many years ago that my self-worth isn’t based on the acceptance or rejection of others. I’m proud of who I am. Proud of my family name. Proud of my roots.



*This post is a part of the Labels Lie Campaign from People of the Second Chance. POTSC is a group of folks who are crazy enough to believe in second chances for absolutely anyone. POTSC is an army of scarred-up freaks who are intensely passionate about compassion. POTSC is a posse of misfits, determined to overthrow judgement and liberate love.

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About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • gigi says:

    I am proud you are my friend.

  • Kelly Bullard says:

    Thanks Steve! We lived with my Great-granny because Mama could not afford for us to live out on our own. She tried to get foodstamps, but made too much, really?!? We got free lunch at school and wore hand-me-downs. But Mama taught us that our worth came from God. Yep, it was hard in school being picked on for what we didn’t have. Mama although she tried could not give us the “in” style clothes, she gave us something more and better, her love and devotion!!!!!!

  • kfsullivanim says:

    I love you. Your sweet, beautiful mama as well, who has always looked and made others feel like a million dollars.
    You are a rich boy.

  • freeze43 says:

    You should feel proud about yourself and your family. The people who brand you “trailer trash” do not deserve your attention.

  • Gigi says:

    I was newly married, a new teacher, and lived in a trailer in the middle of no where. A friend came to visit me one day and said “Oh. I thought you were kidding when you said you lived in a trailer.” 20 years later, I can still feel the awkwardness of that moment.

  • Ashley says:

    I would far rather live in a trailer park happy and content while serving God, than to live in a mansion with no idea what real life was really about. Great job on this one!

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