Have you heard about the record low temperatures we’ve had in North Carolina recently? Well, let me tell you: this weather has caused me some serious first world problems.
For one thing, I couldn’t just go out and get in my Honda Civic and leave. Oh no! I’d have to plan ahead, go out early, and start my car so that it could be defrosting; even then, I still had to scrape off the ice. Also, I don’t have seat warmers in my car. Nope. Sure don’t.
So, on those days when the temperature was in the single digits, I actually had to wear a coat. Seriously: even my warmest wool sweaters weren’t enough! I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand wearing coats. They’re so bulky and inconvenient. You have to find a place to hang them or carry them around all day. Who’s got time for that nonsense? Not me.
But it wasn’t just cold; it was also icy. This meant the roads weren’t safe for large vehicles like the city sanitation trucks. For two weeks I had trash that did not get collected. Two weeks! By the time they finally arrived, I had three bags of recycling in my garage to take to the road. If I’d had to wait much longer, it would’ve taken me two trips. Well, it would have taken my husband two trips. (I wasn’t about to go out in that cold if I could help it!)
What’s that you say? These aren’t real problems? Okay fine. But how many of us complained about stuff like this over the last few weeks? I was certainly a bit more focused on the ways my life was disrupted, than I was on my many privileges.
For example, I never once worried that I would lose my job if I couldn’t safely travel to work. (It never even occurred to me.) I took it for granted that my home would be warm, that my car would start, that the city would come to collect my garbage, and that when I needed hot water, it would be available.
Privilege. It’s something we often fail to notice. It’s like oxygen. We only notice when it’s absent.
But we can do better, can’t we? I know it’s hard, but we really can be more aware, more grateful, don’t you think?
Author Anne Lamott seems to think so. In her book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, she says this:
“I pray not to be such a whiny, self-obsessed baby, and give thanks that I am not quite as bad as I used to be (talk about miracles). Then something comes up, and I overreact and blame and sulk, and it feels like I haven’t made any progress at all. But it turns out I’m less of a brat than before, and I hit the reset button much sooner, shake it off, and get my sense of humor back.”
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
*This piece was first published on March 9, 2015, by Baptist News Global (formerly Associated Baptist Press). I’m delighted to be associated with this great organization and am honored to be among the gifted writers and thinkers featured there. Watch for my BNG column, appearing monthly at baptistnews.com.