Friday, March 9, 2012

Am I privileged or blessed?

I’m sitting here in front of my computer thinking about something.  How’s that for an opener?  More specifically, I’m thinking about something that makes me feel like either barfing or crying.  Or, honestly, maybe sticking my head in the sand for a little while longer.  But then I remember that I’ve more or less had my head in the sand for the last 2.5 decades of adulthood.  What I have known, but carefully avoided, is that I have led a privileged life, and all around me are the trophies of that privilege:  our possessions, experiences, and options.  Among my privileges are having been born in the United States to a family that remained intact, to a family that valued hard work and whose hard work paved the way to some financial success.  I got a great education that opened the door to, not surprisingly, more privilege.  Tom and I have together been privileged to have a nice house, the ability to send our girls to good schools, and so on and so forth.

Consider the way the privilege of possessions has a way of possessing us.  In my living room alone, I count 147 things that would fit the definition of “possessions.”  If I had the gumption to open up the doors on the wall of built-in cabinets, I’m pretty sure that I would find 75+ movies, 100+ CDs, 25+ games and puzzles.  If we don’t even know what we have and it is more frustrating than fun to find some entertainment or activity to immerse ourselves in, it’s time to skinny down and reprioritize.

I believe some things about privilege:  God placed me in privilege for His good purposes.  I also believe it’s really, really important to distinguish privilege from blessing.  Because, let’s face it, privilege can also be a curse.  Privilege is only a few short steps away from feeling entitled, superior, protected, deserving.   Privilege breeds the troubling conviction that as long as I claim my privilege to be self-made, my use of that privilege is justified.

Privilege leads us to form all sorts of suspect opinions about our place in the corner of the world that we occupy, and the troubles we should therefore be able to avoid.  I took a few minutes to grab a few tongue-in-cheek examples of the kind of thought life in which it is shockingly easy to catch myself.  From
  • There was no soy milk left to make my latte this morning.  I had to drive 15 minutes to the supermarket and ended up spending $100 on groceries.  It made me so moody.
  • This bottled artesian spring water tastes weird.
  • I need to find a hairdresser who can help me through that in-between-hairstyles phase.
  • The rain is falling just fast enough to require windshield wipers, but just slow enough to where the first speed setting seems like overkill.

That site’s sideways nod to the folly of 21st century American life makes me laugh and squirm at the same time.  It’s a humbling reminder that my thoughts often – too often – veer that direction.  I could add my own {if I tweeted}.  “Can this light last any longer?  Five minutes late now and goodbye on time for the rest of the day.”  “I think I need a bigger linen closet.  I can’t even get all of our blankets in.”  Can you feel me rolling my eyes at myself?  Lord, draw my eyes to you.

So, how do we respond to privilege in a way that honors God?  With humility, and with hearts and hands willing to use our privilege for something other than our own advantage.  Self-serving privilege is no blessing.  Privilege tuned to other’s needs unlocks that beautiful truth:  we are blessed to be a blessing.

Time and again in FFE, I am drawn to Luke chapter 12.  Jesus speaks right to the heart of the matter in Luke 12:48.

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Lord, since I cannot claim to not know and because I have been given much, I surrender to your demands of me.  You have entrusted me with much, and I delight in responding to what you ask of me.

1 comment:

  1. Beca, I am very much enjoying your blog and relating to everything you are saying. The same thoughts have been rolling through my head the last couple of weeks. We're getting new countertops in our kitchen and I am embarrased to think how many hours I have spent contemplating just the right color, the right material, etc...Thanks for sharing your journey!