I live in the United States, obviously one of the most well off countries in the world. And by this country’s standards, I’m pretty comfortable. We earn a good income, have more than enough “stuff”, and I’ve had many awesome opportunities in my life. On top of that, I’ve got a wonderful husband does a great job at providing, and three beautiful, healthy boys.
And some days I can feel SO guilty about it.who
I was riding my road bike the other day in the lovely Indiana farmland, counting my blessings, and enjoying the warm sunshine and exercise, thinking about how happy I was.
And guilt began to consume me, as it always does when I feel happy for very long.
Why did I get to be born in a prosperous country, where life is easier and options for leisure abound? Why did I get to live outside of poverty, go to college, have the good things that I have?
My entire life I have suffered from tremendous guilt over living in the first world….and I have always thought that maybe the guilt would subside if I gave everything away and moved into abject poverty with the majority of the world. Didn’t Jesus tell the rich young ruler to give away all of his possessions?
Fortunately, I have a great mentor, who walks closely with Jesus, who pointed out a few things that have helped change my perspective and lessen the load of guilt I carry. Just like anyone else, I certainly have areas in my life where I need to be more giving and less selfish, and more concerned about others, but not all of my rationale for my guilt has been Spirit guided and God centered.
First, Jesus told the rich young ruler to give away his riches because he knew the man’s heart. Having wealth isn’t in and of itself wrong, but how one feel’s about it in their heart and how it is used. Others throughout the New Testament obviously had money, such as Joseph of Arimethea, but they were never mentioned in a negative light. What is most important about the wealth we have is how we handle it, and whether or not it replaces God in our hearts. Do we let it slip through our hands to people in need, believing it is God’s money to be handled well, or do we grip it tightly, saying “Mine, mine, mine!!!”
Second, my understanding of the nature of God is a bit cloudy. I developed an unconcious belief that God was going to punish me for living in a country such as the US and having a relatively easy life thus far. Which is dumb logic….why would God get mad at me for something he himself did? He chose for me to be born in the US, to live in this time and culture, and follow him in whatever circumstances he placed me.. I had no choice in where I was going to be placed.
I also have trouble believing that God’s plan is going to work out. I know it will in my head, but when it comes down to it, in my heart I struggle. I see the hurting and victimized in the world, and struggle with believing that God can truly fix it all in the end. I have always felt the need to do a sort of penance to the rest of the world, to make up for the nice life that I’ve had so far. Basically what it comes down to is me putting God in the courtroom and acting as a judge toward him, accusing him of not being able to work things for the good.
Ultimately, what my heart needs is more time with Jesus, allowing him to reveal more and more about his nature. And, as my mentor advised, I don’t need to seek out more suffering. There will be suffering enough in life as it is. Seeking out more suffering to make myself feel better certainly isn’t going to make me more holy in God’s eyes. He asks me to receive what he sends my way, and do with it what he asks, giving him all the glory. Nothing more is required of me.
Seeking to fully live,