Who do you think you are?

I mentioned last week that I was reading Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities. One of the many issues Alexandra Robbins touched upon during the course of the book is the idea of charity. Greek organizations claim to have at least some degree of service orientation, but so often service is directly tied to their money.

I remember cynically observing this when I was in a sorority myself. Our biggest philathropy of the semester was a rock climbing party at a local gym. Other sorority and fraternity members paid money for the chance to climb and win prizes in the party-like atmosphere we established.

“This isn’t service,” I thought bitterly to myself. “This is ridiculous.”

I approached the pages of Pledged with the same attitude – until reality got the best of me.

Maybe many Greek organizations are more focused on social functions than service. Maybe the primary difference they make in their community is achieved through mommy & daddy’s money.

But isn’t that more than what I’ve done?

What a hypocrite I am to think myself better than someone because I’m not affiliated with a Greek organization (anymore). Yes, I have several friends whose Greek involvement has been a major factor in their college career. But on the whole, I still tend to look at sorority girls with disdain.

Meanwhile, I sit in cozy suburban home and focus on what I can do to make my life better. I plot what shoes I need to complement my winter wardrobe and pore over Web sites to find job openings. I read countless novels each week, and buy $3 lattes because I’m too lazy to make one in my own kitchen.

That’s not the lifestyle Christ has for me. These aren’t necessarily bad things, but they are far from loving my brother and allowing my faith to be reflected in everything I do.

The truth is, I’m ashamed. I don’t want to help other people – when I made a list of life goals a few weeks ago, that virtuous mission wasn’t on there. It’s not that I wish people ill. I’m just too damn self-centered to do much about it.

I visited a nursing home on assignment for my magazine while these thoughts were stirring in my head. Initially, I was reluctant to spend two hours there. Nursing homes aren’t exactly my favorite place to be, and I was afraid I’d be uncomfortable. But I resolved to do what I must to get the story. “Besides,” I thought, “my presence will probably mean more to these people than my discomfort means to me.”

Two hours later, I drove through the streets of downtown Birmingham with a heart made heavy by conviction. I didn’t have anything to offer those people. More than anything, I observed the ministry I was reporting on and smiled at the residents in their beds.

But the enthusiasm of the chaplains got to me. I’ve received so many blessings. Why am I so reluctant to bless others? I’ll tell you what, changing my attitude isn’t going to be easy. Though I have time to spare, I while it away watching A Makeover Story and Friends. But if you would, join me in praying for my selfishness and for how I can serve God by serving others. It won’t be the easiest change I’ve made, but it will be among the most worthwhile.


Filed under Autobiography, Faith, Insecurity

4 Responses to Who do you think you are?

  1. I could have written this post, Carla.

    Well… I could have written this post if I had ever been in a sorority. And if I was a good writer.

  2. I can’t believe you were in a sorority…although if I try hard enough I can picture it. But, nonetheless, I’m amazed.

  3. Sarah

    I could have written this post too. At least the bit about being self-centered. That is SO me. It’s always hard for me to understand people who have to be told to take care of themselves because they’re so focused on others…I’m the absolute opposite. And I want to change that. We should all band together to work on it. 🙂

  4. melissa

    I was just going to let everyone know that I just made these great business cards so I have all of my contact info on them. I can pass them out to professors, potential jobs, friends, co-workers and to classmates for study groups or whatever. I designed them myself and it’s very handy. If your interested.

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