I AM PRIVILEGED
It has been a long time coming, but I have finally come to the conclusion that I am privileged. I don’t mean I am rich. There is a difference in the way I mean that I am a woman of privilege.
I do not come from a family of means. As a married wife and mother, at one time in our lives we declared bankruptcy, had the church bring us food and even sold some of our belongings to put food on the table. In point of fact, even now, years later, we live on a fixed income. My husband and I have just barely enough in the bank at the end of the month to stay in the black. Now, for a lot of folks over the world, that is, of course very rich—to have enough to pay bills and have anything left over. But this post is not about money. So, for the sake of argument, just accept that I’m not wealthy by any definition.
Should I want to, however, I can do a great many things that don’t really have much to do with being wealthy and that I think very little about each day.
I can apply to any school in this nation and should I desire to attend, with my grades and previous degree and educational experience, I’m rather certain I could get in.
I can move into most any neighborhood should I desire to do so.
I can wander into any department store in the world, dressed as I usually am for church, nice jeans, T-shirt, probably a nice jacket, because I’m always cold and I would be reasonably guaranteed service with a smile.
After all, I am privileged.
I can be pulled over by a police officer on the highway and because I believed everything I was ever taught in driver education class, I can be reasonably assured that there is something wrong with my vehicle, not the way I’m driving it.
I can walk up to you as you walk in our downtown in the evening, even though you don’t know me and strike up a conversation about your adorable three-year old without any problem.
I could even snatch your purse while doing it and probably have an attorney get it thrown out of court saying I was just a bit confused—perhaps after taking the wrong anti-depressant that afternoon.
And I can walk anywhere I want to for the most part and no one will wonder why I am where I am, doing what I’m doing.
After all, I am privileged. And I am white.
I have grown up the majority of my life believing, honestly believing, that I was not racist, that I was not even prejudiced. But I was wrong in my belief. I will tell you when I first realized this and how horrified I was at that realization.
We had just heard a stirring sermon at our church on love, actually. And I don’t mean the film by that title. Our pastor was trying to communicate the biblical perspective that there was no place for belief that one race was superior to or more blessed than another—specifically that color was not an issue with God. And I believed this! I did! (I’m not sure why we think God can use His entire box of crayons on the world He created but not use the same box on the people He put in it!)
Anyway, I don’t remember all the scripture that was quoted that day. But I have done quite a lot of reading since then; because I was so appalled at what happened later that afternoon.
My husband and I had gone to a local park to spend some time resting between services. As we sat enjoying the peaceful surroundings, I noticed a young couple walking hand in hand by the small pond. One was white, the other black. As I looked at them, even after having heard such a convicting sermon only hours before, my first thought formed: Why can’t they find friends of the same…. My thought remained unfinished. “The same what?” my Savior said.
I never thought I was a racist. I didn’t! I had welcomed many people of different races into my life. But apparently, I had never welcomed them into my heart. And I didn’t even know that! I was crushed to find out in such a visceral way—and to hear my Jesus call me on it. This young couple had perhaps already found what Martin Luther King longed for on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and were able to look past the “color of their skin to the content of their character.” I had not.
There is no biblical support to divide us by race. On the contrary, there is ample support to ignore race all together, as if it did not exist. In our sin, it is we who continue to make it an issue of separation. Fortunately, for my own spiritual journey, Jesus saw fit to convict me of this, hear my cry of repentance and shower me with the grace he does each time I realize my imperfections and come to him (figuratively) on my knees in regret and humbly ask for forgiveness.
Racism in all its forms and ugliness is wrong. If we are whose we say we are, children of God—the God who made us ALL in His image—then we must believe that ALL people were created in His image. (Genesis 1:27) When we say ‘Yes’ to the unspeakable gift of salvation, we become adopted sons and daughters of Almighty God—brothers and sisters in faith of Jesus Christ. “There is no Jew, or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galations 3:28).
There is no doubt in my mind that I am saved, a new creation, belonging to Christ and when I die, I will step into eternity to live with him forever. There is also no doubt in my mind that when I do, I will see people of every tribe, tongue, nation AND COLOR there to greet me.
And I will be so privileged to see every. single. one!!
“They will come from East and West, from North and South, and recline at the table in the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:29)