"Hey! It's a Bedroom-Kitchen!"
This was Yikealo's succinct assessment of our new living quarters. We are in the process of expanding the kitchen and bathroom on our main floor and, consequently, our family of four is squeezed into about half of our basement (the other half also showing signs of construction).
The thing is: while the arrangement is inconvenient at times (with "times" being whenever we're home), the thought that nailed me as soon as I heard "Bedroom-Kitchen" was that ours is, by far, the nicest Bedroom-Kitchen I've ever seen.
The fact is that during this time of thanksgiving and reflection, I could quickly think of loved ones who would gladly trade all they had for the amenities of our Bedroom-Kitchen. These dear ones live with so much less than what we have piled into a 11 x 12 room. They live with no hope of betterment. They can't "hang in there" just a few weeks longer to reap the benefits of a more convenient circumstance.
Yikealo's brief observation started me thinking. A lot. And I think that what I think about this holiday season goes something like this: there are four ways we can consider our affluence, but only one right way.
First, there is entitlement. We are in the middle of reading Jen Hatmaker's book "Seven" and it has shone light on new areas of the things we "need" to have. Yowza! The new appliances, the fancy coffee machine, gifts for the boys, new shoes because (gasp), the old ones are starting to develop holes.
We move from entitlement to complacency. Of course we have food. Of course we have sufficient heat and clothing. Six inches of snow isn't life-and-death, it's a welcome treat secure in the knowledge that it's always warm inside with plenty of hot chocolate. The lights come on when we flip the switch. Clean water is abundantly available.
As we become aware of the circumstances of those less fortunate, we inevitably embrace guilt. Why us? Why so much? Shouldn't others have more? WHAT ARE WE DOING? Larisa and I recently encountered our budget from 2005 and literally wept over the luxury spending. Who were those people? (and why didn't they have their house paid off?)
I've pretty much laid bare all of the poor attitudes I bring to the season. While considering this post I had hoped to explain the three bad attitudes and then smugly paint myself into the fourth. However, writing the blog has been a ringing indictment that my heart is not quite so mature as I had hoped.
Certainly feeling entitled or being complacent are not helpful perspectives on all that God has given us, but neither is it helpful to feel guilty. As cliche as it sounds, the only healthy perspective on our affluence is to have a grateful heart. Maybe our government was onto something when they designated "Thanksgiving Day" rather than "Apathy Day" or "Me Day" or "Woe is me Day". True thankfulness comes from realizing that everything we have is God's, and it is only out of that recognition that true generosity can flow.
It is, therefore, with a grateful heart that I contemplate my family, reflect on the babe in a manger, "survey the wondrous cross", and retire to my Bedroom-Kitchen.