ashleyshorthairI can’t help but get squirmy and defensive when someone calls me out on my privilege. . .

because I have an overwhelming, embarrassing amount of pride (the bad kind).

because it’s so easy to confuse privilege with a lack of work ethic.

because I have struggled and sacrificed while grabbing – usually aimlessly – at my piece of the American dream.

because I have been taught for years that as a white, educated, middle class American at the top of the privileged pecking order that there is so much that I can give and so little that “they” can give me in return.

because most people, myself included, forget what it really means to be privileged.

because it’s so easy to be on your team but it’s hell to be in your shoes.

because I often think that I know what others need without stopping to truly listen.

because I refuse to admit that I have physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual needs.

And yet I know, like Jen Hatmaker said, that:

“We stand at the intersection of extreme privilege and extreme poverty, and we have a question to answer: Do I care?”

Yes. Yes I care. I care deeply. But I am afraid. Mostly I am afraid that by offering my hands and heart to service that I will have to admit that I am in need of something too. I am terrified of getting hurt – or worse – disappointed. I am stubborn and often unwilling to receive blessings and help from others. The ability to receive blessings – that’s the biggest thing that my privilege (and my pride) has taken away from me. I am constantly overwhelmed by just how tiny my little ripple seems in this vast pool of need.

But do you know what is more constant than my fear? That voice. The one that – without judgement or coercion or manipulation – whispers into the deepest part of my being. The voice that cuts through all of the screaming and protests and finger pointing and taps into the tiniest part of me – the part that still believes in something – and says, “This love never runs out. There is plenty to go around.” And then that pesky little voice waits, and without saying a word asks, “So what are you going to do?”

I don’t know. Most of the time I just don’t know.

But for now, I’ve decided to try to live through the fear with my hands wide open – ready to give and receive.

Ashley Robinson is the executive assistant at Baptist Women in Ministry. This post first appeared on her blog, Clothesline Confessional.