Everyday Spirituality: The Blog
Merit or Privilege? | blog
I arrived just before my 9:00 appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles and found 30-40 people already standing in a line that went out the door! Because I had scheduled an appointment, I was allowed to pass by them to stand in the line designated Appointments Only. The next clerk soon became available, and a couple from the regular line walked in front of me toward that window – but the clerk sent them back to their line and invited me up instead. I then moved swiftly through the license renewal process, and was heading home with my new license in under fifteen minutes.
I had mixed feelings about this…
In one way, I felt that I deserved this special treatment. When my license was about to expire, the DMV website recommended making an appointment because of Covid-19 and social distancing restrictions. The first available appointment wasn’t until six weeks later, so I reserved that one. When that day finally arrived, the DMV computer system was down and I had to reschedule. The next available time was a few weeks later – and once again the system was down! So, I felt that my privilege of ease and efficiency on this day was merited and deserved.
But I also felt uncomfortable with my priority treatment while so many others waited in line. I wanted to shout, “Hey folks, I had a tough time getting to this point, too; I am with you!” If I’m honest, I also felt uncomfortable with the way I inwardly felt proud, wise, and gleeful about my privileged treatment. I thought to myself, “Hey folks, see how easily this is done? Make an appointment!”
The root of my discomfort was that I didn’t want to be considered privileged when I felt I had merited this moment. I thought more about this on my way home, and recognized that I am privileged. I have had many undeserved advantages that enabled my special treatment…
I have internet service in an area where the hills or poverty often keep others without. I can read and navigate websites. I have a flexible time schedule that can accommodate appointments. I have the finances to cover the cost of my license. I have a car to drive to the DMV, and the health to walk in. I even had fearful but caring parents and a cranky driving instructor who taught me to drive years ago.
The people waiting in line could have easily perceived me as privileged, and they would be right.
Now is the time to rethink my privilege: How might I use my advantages and abilities to enable someone to have a better life? Can I celebrate my small victories without forgetting those who helped me along the way? Can I remain humble, knowing that others could celebrate the same successes under different circumstances? Can I remember that everything I have is a gift from God, a gift to be used for every good purpose?
Karen Wicker is a spiritual writer who shares meditations regularly on her blog site, simplysoulsearching.com. After serving in a variety of ministries, she is currently semi-retired, enjoying her life as a wife, mom, and Grammy, and her daily walks with God.