Christianity, Personal

What to Do with Privilege?

A sweet coworker gave me a Temporary Goodbye Card today, and its cover read, “I will bless you, and you will be a blessing,” which is taken from Genesis 12:2.  It resonated with me because it touched on something I often feel – guilt about my privilege.

There’s the fundamental guilt I feel about working at a recovery program for women who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  They’ve been through hell on earth, and that is something I have never experienced.  I can easily lose myself in a spiraling trail of “why not me”s, so I usually avoid the mental topic altogether.

There’s also the daily guilt I feel when I go on weekend trips or go out to a fancy coffee shop.  I have a hard time with self-care, no matter how obvious it is to me that other people should prioritize it.  Why do I deserve to go to Bucharest for the weekend?  Why should I have any extra spending money at all?

It’s very easy for me to believe in the truth of the martyr’s complex.  The only way I can serve God is through suffering, or so I thought for many years.  But this verse in Genesis touches on something more nuanced:  Sometimes God blesses us so that we have the strength, energy, and ability to bless others.

I’m a big baby, unfortunately, and the smallest life misstep can make me fall off the mental ledge, doubting every decision I’ve ever made.  In a lot of ways, I feel like God leads me gently, offering me just enough of the things I find lovely and restorative so that I won’t go crazy.

It’s worth mentioning that the person God is talking to in that verse is Abram.  Sure, Abram was blessed immeasurably, but this is also the guy who was told to leave his hometown forever, who lived without children for most of his life and endured the social scorn of that, who  was tested and failed regularly.  His life was definitely not perfect.

Mine isn’t either.  I love traveling, but giving up the dream of living in my hometown and doing the normal marriage and babies thing with my friends is pretty gut-wrenching.  I don’t know if I’ll even get to the do the abnormal marriage and babies thing, and having a home that could change drastically visa to visa is not my idea of security.

But despite that, I have no doubt that I’m blessed.  I’m privileged.  I’m a white, middle-class, able-bodied, educated woman with many people who love me, and many more who give me their hard-earned money so that I can live in Greece and work with women who have endured the worst life has thrown at them.  I’m so grateful that God has blessed me, because if he hadn’t?  I wouldn’t be here.  And because he has blessed me, I can be a blessing to the women I work with and serve.

So with that in mind, I’m going to start looking eagerly for more blessings.  I want to be full, so that I can fill others.

 

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2 thoughts on “What to Do with Privilege?”

  1. This is a lovely post. I get this feeling as well, usually when I’m feeling down and then I think… what right have I got to complain with all my privilege? And it sends me down a rabbit hole of self loathing and doubt about how deserving I am of this privilege. I always remind myself in those moments that that is not healthy. God gave me the privilege that I have and I don’t deserve it and I know that. But I also know that He decided in His Grace to give it to me, so it is good. And that the response He wants from me is gratitude and worship, not self loathing and doubt.

    Like

    1. Yes, exactly. In my experience, self-loathing and doubt did not inspire me to much, but accepting good things with thankfulness is exactly what will inspire me to pass whatever blessings I have along to others!

      Liked by 1 person

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