NOTICE AND DISCOVER – MERIT OR PRIVILEGE?

(NOTICE AND DISCOVER #4)
Monday, August 2nd

Merit:
~ something that deserves or justifies a reward or commendation

Privilege:
~ a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed by a particular person or a restricted group of people beyond the advantages of most*

This past Friday, I had a 9:00 appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles. When I arrived, there were 30-40 people already standing in a line that went out the door and down the sidewalk! But because I had scheduled an appointment, I was able to walk past all of them to stand in a line designated for “Appointments Only.” As the next clerk became available, a couple from the regular line started to walk in front of me toward that window; the clerk told them to go back in line and invited me up instead. I was then moved swiftly through the license renewal process, and I was back on the road with my new license in under fifteen minutes.

I had mixed feelings about all of this…

In one way, I felt that I deserved this special treatment. I had tried to schedule my appointment back in May, when my license was about to expire. The DMV website strongly recommended making an appointment because of Covid-19 and social distancing restrictions. Their first available appointment wasn’t until July 8th, so I reserved that one. When that day finally arrived, I received a call that the computer system was down and I needed to reschedule! I then took the next available time, July 19th. On that morning, I actually went all the way to the DMV and was told that the computer system was down AGAIN. I had to return home and wait for someone to call with a new appointment.

So on Friday, I felt that my privilege of ease and efficiency was merited and deserved.

In another way, I felt uncomfortable with my priority treatment while all these people continued to wait in line. I wanted to shout, “Hey folks, I had a tough time getting to this point, too; I am with you!” If I am 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 had merited this moment…

The recent Five Minute Friday prompt (see FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY: DRIVE ) was my invitation to pay attention to God’s movement at the DMV that day. So later, I contemplated these mixed emotions and began to realize the ways I am privileged. I have had so many undeserved advantages that led to my experience of special treatment.

For example, I have internet service in an area where the hills or poverty often keep others without service. I am able to read, I have the knowledge of website navigation, and I have a cell phone to receive notice of cancelations. I have the freedom of a flexible time schedule that can accommodate appointments. We have the financial ability to pay our property tax and 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 those years ago.

The people waiting in line could have easily perceived me as privileged, and they would be right.

~~~~~

Here are my invitations for this week. Do they resonate with yours?

Though there will always be inequalities and unfair advantages, what can I do to enable someone to have a better chance for a better life? How might I use my advantages and abilities in service for others?

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? How might I refrain from feeling entitled?

Might I respond, “I don’t deserve this!” for my blessings as readily as I do for my hardships?

Do we merit God’s goodness simply because God calls us beloved, and so regards all of us worthy of goodness and blessing? How might I help God bring that goodness to others?

What small miracles and movements are you noticing this week?

My prayers for you continue.

~~~~~

A few hours before posting this blog, I read this…
“Everything that we have and do and are and accomplish is because of God’s immense love for us and empowerment of us.”1
And once again, I marvel at the goodness of God in these small daily miracles.

~~~~~


*Definitions from Dictionary.com

1Rubietta, Jane. Resting Place – A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005. Paperback.

Photo by Karen, Winfield, WV

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