Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Gnawing Tension

Disclaimer: I'm going to be very "raw" with this post.

This issues raised by Ann Voskamp in this post:   grip me and have as long as I can remember.
The inequalities of the world we live in has weighed on me since my childhood when I can remember watching the TV "commercials" or special shows that highlighted the starving children in Ethiopia. I never grew immune to the need. Their gaunt faces always haunted me, and I wanted to save them all.

As an adult, I still struggle with inequality. I constantly wrestle with the question of how much is enough for me, for my family?  Is there room to give more than we are giving?

And, I will be honest and say I also struggle with self righteously judging others who I see allowing themselves material possessions, experiences and excess when so many in the world are barely surviving, don't have clean water to drink, are digging through trash heaps for their next meal or even selling their bodies to make ends meet. The atrocities of these realities can grip me to the point that I can not easily enjoy the wealth, privilege, and abundant blessing God has bestowed on me and my family.

This is why it's hard for me to buy anything at full price, and why I belabor many of the purchases we do make.
This is why I am more than okay wearing last year's (or decade's) fashions and am so self conscious about the Dooney & Bourke purse I currently carry only bc my mom got it for free and gave it to me.
This is why a persistent tension exists in my heart in receiving the blessing of our new home that is so beyond what I ever asked or dreamed of.
This is why I gave thanks today as I swiped my credit card at BJ's to buy yet another week's worth of groceries.
This is why it's hard for me at Christmas to lavish gift upon gift to my children who have more than they need, why I cringe just a little bit at the excess of our Thanksgiving feasts.
This is why I have created a family culture of eating up leftovers.
And, this is why while I would love and have taken get-aways with my husband and vacations with my family, it can leave me feeling the sting of undeservedness and regret over where else and on whom else that money could have been spent.

I know there is plenty of room to look more closely at my life and criticize my hypocrisy, my inconsistencies. I know there is a spectrum of giving, of want, of need and plenty and we're all on it somewhere including me. I know I alone have to answer to God for how I spend my time, my money, my resources, my talents. I know I don't answer for anyone else nor should judge others based on the "book's cover."

But I have to say I am refreshed to read a post like Ann's, to know there are other godly voices out there brave enough to call us North Americans to the proverbial carpet.  There have been pastors, teachers, friends and even my husband who have sought to 'adjust' my perspective. And, while I appreciate the perspectives they share, the back and forth banter, and the honest dialogue about the less than black and white-ness of this issue, I feel affirmed  when I read Ann's post.

I recognize that GOD has put this tension in my heart. And, I will do well not to ignore it or litigate it away but rather press in via prayer and the reading of God's Word (and maybe even a bit of fasting should I muster up the self control for that), to moment by moment, decision upon decision hear from and be led by the Holy Spirit on how HE would have me be a part of His redemptive work on this earth in terms of "acting justly."


Danielle said...

I've not read Ann's piece yet, but I have to say I've struggled and do struggle with this tension too. I can't say growing up my dream was to have a "picket fence" life. Instead my dreams were very much rooted in writing and helping those less fortunate.

One of my goals for this year is to find a tangible way for our family to serve the community and those in need around us right here. I've got some ideas, so we'll see where we land . . .

Irina said...

Wow, I read your post and I kept thinking that you somehow were able to write down my thoughts… I can identify with all the things you mentioned. Thank you for putting all my feelings into words.