If I am guilty about privilege, it would be because I took so many of them for granted, they ceased to feel like privileges to me. Especially not having to work for your university education which can be such a pain in the ass sometimes- I can't imagine the double pain my friends feel, working for something that they don't like. Even being able to look for internships, and not caring whether they paid or not. As I mentally listed all the other privileges I have, I realised the extent of my privilege.
|One of them is travelling | Hainan, 海瑞墓|
This semester which is ending in exactly 2 weeks' time has been one of the best. Which is utterly surprising given that it started off with me feeling that I had just ruined my life. My heart was still in HK and I wasn't glad to be home as I should, I looked at my academic records and thought "Shit what was I doing by declaring 2 minors and then taking all those random modules", I didn't get any modules all the way until school started. To top it off, feelings of personal and professional incompetence plagued me, together with the sense of meaninglessness.
God has been very faithful. Today's sermon on Psalm 40:1-3 reminded me again of this, because they were the exact same verses given to me when I was working through all of the above:
"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put in a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God, Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." (NIV)
Now as I look back, I can only see blessings. No joke. Even in the hard times when it was so trying to get out of bed at 5am to prepare for work, when I hug myself in the bathroom because I can't face the world just yet, when I feel overwhelmed because of how little I know and how little I am doing. When I feel so incompetent as a person, and yet so want to be accepted. These experiences have been blessings as well-
God teaching me about love, about Himself, about myself, about relationships, about trusting and waiting.
To care less about doing for but more about being with people. To speak more boldly about how I feel and showing appreciation/encouragement/concern where it is due, not caring that it can be awkward.
Particularly one privilege that I have been using better has been prayer. Because when you are simply unable to bring yourself out of bed, you speak to God while lying there in half-awakened anguish. When you know you are going to be late for work if you don't snap out of it, you have simply have to pray. When the hollow in your heart cannot go away.
When you want to go back in time but there is nothing you can do. When you feel like everything you have believed in yourself in has fallen apart- and when I prayed I realised that it is good that it has fallen apart, because there is a greater Rock to place my trust in.
Indeed, I was very defined by social work. It was my source of affirmation, my sense of significance and competency, my meaning in life. Social work was also the place where I have many meaningful friendships, not just my batchmates but through the activities I took part in because of who I am as a social work major. So when the doubt that I will be a good worker sank in, I was flailing in anxiety. The thought of leaving social work was scary, like I have somehow failed as a person. The thought of staying and languishing in work was scary too. I guess I tried to make up for that by reading up on the different therapies and theories, working hard to keep up with readings and placing a high expectation of myself for my placement.
But ultimately what got me out of this was not so much the resolving of this doubt. It was the realisation that it did not matter where I worked (of course, I am bonded to social work for 3 years but that is beside the point). Social work is not my identity. It might not even be a vocation given by God, as much as I want it to be. I want to be that person that changes someone's life, and then I realised that it was a source of pride, to boast that I have impacted lives.
I began to see that being a social worker is also a privilege. To minister God's goodness in the broken world. Mr Teo was emphatic at how blessed he is when talking about his work for others. So blessed does he see himself that he overflows with blessings for others. Yet he is not overwhelmed that his efforts pale in comparison to the needs out there, nor is he cynical about it. "The poor you will always have with you"- this is the reality of our broken world. And God will ultimately come and make a new heaven and a new earth. Till then, in a sense heaven has come on earth. We experience heaven, and we want others to get a taste too. The theology of social work. Thank you God for this wonderful mentor, and this beautiful privilege.