I’ll warn you from the start, this post leads to no real conclusions.
“We haven’t taken a vacation yet,” Ray said.
We were driving down a sunny road dotted with old farm houses one morning last week. I had so many thoughts in response to his sentence that I didn’t know which one to utter first.
I can be quite blunt at times. Ray is Arab, and in his culture directness is seen as rude. We are a match made in heaven. He forces me to think before I speak.
I sat in the passenger seat trying to think of a nice way to say, “What?? Why would we need a vacation? We haven’t worked in months. We don’t deserve a vacation!”
Through the past several years of marriage, I’ve learned (somewhat) to hear Ray out. Even if what he says, initially, sounds ridiculous, there is usually some pearl of truth that I need to find. So rather than immediately telling him he was being ridiculous, I listened, to him and to myself.
“We’re trying to live our values, right?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“And we believe that meaningful work is the result of rest and play, right?”
“Yeah,” I cringed. “But…”
But we have to think practically.
But we have to think about the money in the bank.
But that would be irresponsible right now.
Maybe a vacation right now would be a bad idea. But the truth that surfaced during our conversation was that neither of us felt deserving. Not just of a vacation, but of this life we’re currently living, of this quest we’re on. We decided before coming to the States that we would live off our savings for a while, get out of the rat race, the money-focused routine, and see whether or not we could find a way to make a living with our hearts taking precedence over the status quo. It has been a struggle.
I am aware of how ridiculous that sounds. We are privileged to be able to stay unemployed by our own choice. We are privileged to be at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy. We are privileged to be able to test our theory that meaningful work is the result of rest and play. It is ludicrous to see any struggle here.
What have we done to deserve such privilege?
Ray and I both have seen a lot of the world. We have seen parents who would do anything to work even the most menial jobs in order to provide for their children. Extreme poverty and despair when no work can be found. Yet here we are, choosing not to have jobs at the moment because we want something more. The cushy jobs we had just weren’t enough.
Why us? What have we done to deserve more than the least of these?
Many years ago my family spent a summer at an orphanage in Haiti. I spent several subsequent months in depression over the same questions that I just wrote above. One of my cousins recommended a book at the time—Disappointment With God, by Philip Yancey—that helped me come to some peace with my questions, even if it didn’t answer them. The conclusion I came to then was that we may question God as much as we like, He doesn’t mind. But there is no way we could fully comprehend His answers. He is too great to be fathomed.
My conversation with Ray took place after I wrote last week’s post - My Wicked Habit - and so far that has been my only conclusion in these questions of deserving that still haunt me…I feel undeserving because I am comparing. I am using my own scales—money, ability, education, privilege, effort—to measure worthiness. God’s only measure is Love and that transcends every level of Maslow’s.
I do not know the answers to my questions. I may never know (I warned you at the beginning of this post). But this Love is my anchor, the only thing I have to hold on to when my questions overwhelm me. It covers me like a blanket in the cold…it doesn’t change the weather, but it comforts and warms me.