Winter is finally touching down in Georgia this week with lots of rain and below freezing temps. After what happened last year, we’re all understandably cautious and schools & businesses have already begun to close down in preparation for the “wintry mix” that’s been forecast. On my way home from work tonight I noticed icicles quickly forming on power lines, traffic signs, and trees. Thankfully the roads were a ways away from succumbing and my drive was safe, leaving me free to enjoy the way the light sparkled through the tiny bits of ice. I couldn’t wait to get home and snap a few photographs before curling up under multiple blankets with my small family all nestled together.
We like the word “blessed”. We love it, actually. Hashtag blessed. “Got free guac at Chipotle #blessed” “Three day weekend! #blessed” “The wings on my eyeliner are symmetrical #blessed” We’re a bit hashtag obsessed with being hashtag blessed, yeah? Don’t worry; I am 100% part of this crowd.
There’s synonym for our beloved blessed that isn’t nearly as favored. I think we’re scared of it, honestly. Our hackles rise in defense when it’s tossed our way and we’re quick to respond, “You have no idea what I’ve been through!” We freely admit to being blessed all day. But being privileged? Hell to the no, I’ve earned what I have with my own blood, sweat, and tears! Screw you AND YOUR MOM TOO.
This is particularly a problem in American Christian culture, I think. At least, from my limited perspective and experience in this world. (That last sentence should be how we all end most of the statements we make. Agreed?) We like what “blessed” means because it has a positive connotation: God has chosen to bestow upon me this big/medium/small gift not because I have earned it but because He loves me and wants me to be happy. Hallelujah, bring on the #blessings. We do not feel the same way about “privileged”. We get mad at “privileged” because it brings with it a heaviness and at times, a guilt. There is a difference between blessed and privileged, that is definite. Does it have to be a bad thing, though? Privileged is: God has chosen to bestow upon me this big/medium/small advantage not because I have earned it but because He loves me and wants me to use it as a tool or platform for loving and helping others.
No wonder we hate privilege. It comes with responsibility. An obligation. Damnit.
Blessings we feel free to enjoy like birthday gifts. Just because. Just because you’re special and lovely and a good person. You have to DO something with a privilege though. It is a call to action. It is our highest and most important calling.
A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34
This is where the guilt comes from. We are called to love each other in a Godly way. But we are human. And selfish. And it’s so much easier to call something a blessing and move on. It’s hard to acknowledge a privilege and look for ways to utilize it for the good of others. Who wants to give away birthday gifts, ya know? We’d prefer to just deny its existence.
This is a difficult subject to broach. I have a lot of thoughts about it and there are so many different points to cover (the American Dream culture and celebration of busy-ness, etc). I sit on my words for a long time. I don’t like to talk about something until I feel comfortable that I actually have a decent amount of knowledge to contribute and not merely an opinion. Opinions are easy to have. Kind of like blessings. I don’t really know if this jumbled collection of words can or will do much good. But the teacup of my brain was overflowing a bit and I needed to pour a little out. So thank you for being here for that.
It is both a blessing and a privilege that I had a warm group of huddled bodies to come home to tonight. That I have a warm house in which to retreat after enjoying icicles for the beauty they have to offer. It is a privilege that is not shared by all.
Please consider donating to your local organizations that work diligently to bring short-term and long-term solutions to the challenges faced by our homeless brothers and sisters. Might I suggest Gateway Center in Atlanta.