I came home from the grocery store a bit heavy-hearted this morning. I think I’m beginning to realize how God has used a simple errand over the course of the last year and a half to deflate my pride. That’s how long we’ve qualified for food stamps and the WIC nutrition program. Using either of those government aids was difficult in the first few months because I always felt like people were looking at me, judging me and assuming things about me or my family. Then I got over it and realized it didn’t matter what they thought because I knew the truth. Now, I’m back to being aware of what people might think.
The last few times I’ve used a WIC check, which specifies the kinds and amounts of certain foods you can buy, the store’s register has not recognized an item that should be allowed for purchase. Most of the time, the clerks are friendly and helpful, as are the managers who help them rectify the problem. Today was about the same, but I just got the feeling that the clerk thought it was my fault that a block of cheese came up as unallowable, and even though the manager corrected the problem and found the price, I couldn’t shake the desire to defend myself. I always want to defend myself in these situations, even if everything goes right. I want to say, “I’m not stupid. I have a college degree. My husband works two jobs and is a graduate student. The stress is about killing us, but we’re in for the long haul to serve people as God has called us to do.”
And then I think, so what? So what if I did explain our family circumstances; what would it help? And why do I feel the need to tell them anything at all? If I’m honest, it’s because I want to set myself apart from “all those other people” who get government assistance. You know, the welfare moms who don’t have a high school education and have four kids by four different guys who sit at home and mooch off the government.
Stereotype much? I’m just as guilty of judgment and prejudice as the people I think are judging me. So, I keep my mouth shut, respectfully respond, and walk out knowing that our family won’t be a WIC and food stamp family forever. Others, however, aren’t so lucky.
I wonder how many times Christ had to hold his tongue and how hard it was for Him to not completely humiliate His hearers with a statement like, “You do realize I’m God, right?” (His response in Matthew comes close, “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 17:17)
Instead, we’re told, this was His attitude:
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:5-7)
This is a familiar passage, but what I’ve missed before is that to Christ, becoming human was becoming nothing in comparison to what He was and is. We are nothing compared with what He is, and we are nothing without Him.
I don’t want to be nothing, and I don’t want to be treated like nothing, but amazingly and unexplainably, in Christ, I am something and someone. To me that means that I don’t have to prove or defend myself to anyone.
Christ did not and He had infinitely greater reason than I.