Friday, January 15, 2010

survivor's guilt.

I think it's safe to say I'm not alone in this feeling. I'm sitting here, in my cozy and warm apartment (that's registering a delightful 70 degrees), nibbling on crackers (that I chose from a wide selection of goodies in my pantry), sipping fresh water (that's cold, no less), and typing on a computer that is the size of a spiral-bound notebook (which I can easily take from room to room). I wore new shoes today to work, and new jeans, and I bought a $7 lunch from a conveniently-located sandwich shop just a short walk from my office. I ate said lunch at the comfort of my desk located in the building where I have a cushy job that pays me a living wage and doesn't require me to sacrifice my integrity or wear a hairnet.

And people in Haiti are dying. By the minute. From lack of food, from lack of water, from injuries, from contamination. From not being found.

And I'm here, in the U.S., with my two university degrees, my fashionable clothes, my stocked refrigerator, my heated home, and my warm bed.

And I feel completely and absolutely guilty. Like I shouldn't have made dinner for myself tonight. Like I shouldn't have bought those new shoes. Like I should put away my diplomas from my fancy university. Like I should do more with less, give more without reservation, not have what I have been given and earned.

Because it just isn't fair.

I could get into a big philosophical, cultural, political, and economic blah-dee-blah about it all, try to sort out why I'm living in the most developed and wealthy nation on the planet, while others--our sisters and brothers in Haiti, for example--are not. Why was I chosen to live the life I've been given? Why did God give me this existence?

I've wrestled with this question long before the disaster that struck this week in Haiti, but now this question is truly haunting me. I felt awful driving to work in my heated car today, scolded myself for catching a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror and noticing oh! how lovely my skin looks today thanks to my new moisturizer!, didn't want to eat my $7 lunch because I felt like I didn't deserve it and couldn't give thanks to God for it enough.

I pray. Oh, how I pray! And I'm really trying not to dwell on the whys and the hows of my life right now. I'm trusting that God put me here because there is work He wants me to do in this place, with the resources I've been given, work that only I can do because of the gifts He's given me. Just like there is a kind of work that only you can do because of the gifts you've been given.

But right now it's hard, because my heart hurts. The guilt is there. I'll just pray to keep pushing past it. To do the work God has put me here to do.

with love from Pittsburgh,
(photo from here)

5 lovely bits o' feedback.:

Anonymous said...

thank you for leaving a comment so i could find your perfect words!! feeling a little less alone.

Lynnetta said...

I watched 20/20 last night and couldn't help buy cry over all the children who were in a horrible situation before the earthquake, and now after, well, Haiti's children are in peril. I sat there trying to come up with a way that I could help just one child, one orphan, but I am in no position to take care of a child.

Have you been reading Virgina's blog ("That's Church") and following what is happening to the two girls from the Burgh who run an orphanage in Haiti for appx 150 orphans? Their situation is desperate and it makes me feel terrible that here are two local girls who have already given so much to these children in this poverty stricken country. And now they are facing so many more obstacles than before. It makes me feel just as you said...guilty. I wish now that I had not procrastinated since last summer in applying for a passport. If I had not, I could possible hop on a plane and fly to Haiti to dig out, feed, and hold the hands of the scared and dying children. But I don't have a passport so I can't do that. But I can give money to the Red Cross, I can pray, and I can hope.

krista said...

what a beautiful, beautiful perspective.
you represent everything that is good about faith.
it's just a shame that the loudest of those with "faith on their side" are the absolute cruelest and myopic.

Lisa E said...

I feel like you feel.

Tobi said...

You are not alone L. And you are correct it isn't fair. I have to believe that if we all do what we can, it will make a difference.