Where to start.
It's not a crisis of faith, exactly...more like a crisis of living. What am I to do with this first-world life of mine?
The question haunts me from the time I get up in the morning until I finally fall asleep again, hours after the lights are turned out.
I know I'm not the only one wrestling with this. Rachel is seeking to avoid complacency in the suburbs; Elizabeth is tired of this first-world Christianity; others, too, are questioning, seeking, searching.
It all just seems so...frivolous. I take my long hot shower and instead of relaxing into it, I am overwhelmed with sadness that others don't even have clean water to drink, much less clean hot water to leisurely bathe in. I wander the mall and feel so empty afterwards - stores full of clothes and food when so many call themselves blessed for the mere (leaking) roof over their heads and the (tattered) clothes on their backs. The culture of consumerism sickens me. I am repulsed by it and yet a part of it and the internal struggle leaves me dizzy.
I question everything. I decorate my home and wonder if making it beautiful is wrong. Yes, it's lovely...but what's the point? What's the cost? I sweep and mop and dust and it all feels so pointless. Yes, it's shiny...but why? Do I spend too much time on things that don't truly matter? Is it wrong to have "nice things"?
I sit and read and it feels so good and so wrong at the same time. Others are toiling, back-breaking work, in hopes of bringing home enough food to partially fill their children's bellies, and I'm just sitting on my couch, casually reading a book? browsing the web? pinning lovely things to my Pinterest boards? watching a movie? sipping my tea? knitting and sewing for fun, enjoyment, relaxation?
Those things aren't wrong...and they are.
I don't know.
And the Internet - oh, the Internet! Blessing and community and knowledge and ignorance was bliss. I am overwhelmed by life in a global society. The needs. The worldwide, endless, heartbreaking needs! I can care for those in my community, the needs I can see and hear and touch, but the needs of an entire world leave me paralyzed. I want to help them all and I don't know where to start and my frozen indecision means that I help none of them. Money sent randomly here and there feels like so little, not enough at all, just a tiny bandage in a world groaning under the weight of all those needs. It's not enough! What do I do?
I try to turn away from the endless onslaught of give give give online and focus instead on a more local community - and again I find myself paralyzed. Oh yes, just move myself out of the suburbs and into a community of true need downtown, but I have two children and I am torn between safety for them and caring for others. Just serve then, but where? And how? And who? So many different needs, so many different services...
What should I be doing here? I have my comfortable first-world life in the suburbs, but what good is it? My children, yes, are my first ministry, but what about serving the poor, helping the orphans and widows, mercy, justice, all the rest? How do I live that out in a practical sense from where I am? I help where I can, with money, time, and donations, with love and encouragement, but it doesn't change the fact that each night I go to sleep in my cozy suburban bubble, safe from the gritty reality of those who have no home to speak of.
I know I can't save the world. I know that from whom much is given, much will be demanded. But I also know more than ever how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. We call ourselves blessed here and I want to believe it, enjoy it, appreciate it, but instead I just feel burdened by it. How can I say God has blessed me here with all of this, as though I have been graced with special favour above the mother crying out to God as her child starves in her arms?
What do I do with this first-world life?