I have it so good. This has struck me before, but it struck me again this week with greater clarity. I am so lucky, or blessed, or privileged, or whatever word you want to use even compared to the neighbor kid down the street, let alone impoverished children in third world countries. I don’t deserve what I have: parents, house, food, job…I deserve none of it. It’s not fair that both of my parents love me, and express that love well. It’s not fair that my sleepless nights aren’t caused by anxiety, hunger, or an argument in the next room. Life isn’t fair to anyone, I know, but isn’t it ironic that after having randomly drawn the longer straw, after having been given blessings which I cannot control I feel guilty? I have health, relative wealth, and the ability to acquire knowledge. I have so much more than I could ever need or ask for.
But guilt isn’t the right response. I know that. The proper responses are joy and generosity. I’ve tried to exercise both of those and lose the guilt, really I have, but most of the truly misfortunate don’t want my pity. Handouts or apologies on their behalf won’t go over well. And joy doesn’t coexist well with guilt, so I’ve failed on both counts– joy and generosity. Sometimes I wish I could just switch, that I could take their panic attacks, and sleepless nights, and the burden of the fights they’ve had to watch. Because maybe then the guilt would go away, and I’ve always been fascinated with the aesthetic of despair anyway. I have to be careful or I’ll soon become a masochist, though I’ll be seeking out pain not for it’s own sake, but because it leads to meaning (which may or may not be true). There’s a reason lyrics like “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.” have always been appealing to me.
Now you probably think I’m a whacked out overly-empathetic freak.Oh well, you’re probably right. But maybe soon I’ll be a recovering whacked out overly-empathetic freak. Maybe soon I’ll realize that I can’t save the world because Jesus already did. Maybe I’ll see that all I’m called to do is to take the people and their burdens to Him. I’m not to don their millstones myself. I hope so. Because I know it’s not healthy to feel guilty for having it so good, or to feel the pain of others more than they do. I want to represent Christ well, but I can only be Christ to the people to an extent. I can’t take their sins. I can’t mentally bear the whole of their collective afflictions. I have it so good, so I need to be thankful, and un-guilty for that and move on. So much easier said than done.