Playing with our 12 month old, I can count on one thing: Entitlement. It doesn’t matter how exciting/age-appropriate/expensive the toy in her hand may be, whatever I’m holding (my spoon/paper/cup) is more attractive. And if she’s denied, a mini-tantrum may follow – complete with squinted face and flapping arms.
When I’m in good humor, it makes me chuckle. But most times I’m frustrated at this sense of entitlement! Why must she not only want what she can’t have, but also expect to have whatever she wants whenever she wants it?
Because she’s like her mama.
Here’s what I’m stuck feeling like I deserve:
- Good health: because I’ve worked hard researching, following a diet, and praying for healing.
- Food: going out to eat, eating whatever I want, going through the drive-thru.
- Me time: I expect naps to last a certain amount of time so I can do what I want.
- Money: we have giving and generosity in our budget so I expect to have money for our needs and wants.
- Ben to meet my needs: I expect him to serve me or prioritize me because my days (and nights) are hard.
- An easy life: I’m frustrated when things don’t go smoothly and keep asking “why me?”.
I could always SAY that life was full of challenges and we are never promised for things to work out. But now that things are actually pretty rough for us for a season, I feel let down – expecting something so different. My words of acceptance don’t mirror my heart of entitlement. What makes me think I deserve all these things coming my way?
The other night, I was frustrated at God for all the money we’ve spent lately on medical expenses. God, don’t you want us to spend our money on something better? Shouldn’t you provide some way for these thousands of dollars to go towards more lasting things or those in need?!
The next day I was complaining to a friend about it, and a thought popped in my head that I know was from God. Would you really spend extra money on others instead of yourselves? Right now I’m teaching you how to live on less. I’m breaking your heart of greed and entitlement. This strain won’t last forever, but this lesson will. Then you’ll know just how little you actually need and how generous you can be.
I have to quit expecting to get what I want like a child. I’m going to start appreciating what we do have. Which is so much! Jesus’ words remind me that there is so much more to life than what I think I am entitled to.
Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. . .What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. . . Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. . . The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. . .Be generous. Give to the poor. . . The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
Portions from Luke 12:22-34, The Message
You may recognize that last line in the NIV: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. In this life, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the wrong things. Our hearts naturally are bent towards selfishness, greed, and temporary pleasures. I want my heart to be focused on lasting things, but that won’t happen by accident. I have some replacements to make.
I’m replacing entitlement with thanksgiving.
Instead of expecting my husband or others to do for me, I’ll express really over-the-top, extreme gratitude when I am cared for.
Instead of grumbling, I’ll find something positive about each complaint.
Instead of throwing a pity party over my friends’ Fall baking and restaurant date nights, I’ll be grateful that I never go hungry.
Instead of expecting special treatment, I’ll look for others to bless.
Instead of pining after material things, I’ll get rid of stuff we don’t need.
And instead of keeping a mental list of what I lack, I’ll start a journal of my blessings.
I can’t keep feeling entitlement, like the world–or God–owes me anything. Because if I am honest about what I actually deserve, I won’t like it. I’m so thankful for the grace and care of Ben, others, and mostly God. I want to live a life that reflects that. A heart of appreciation and thanksgiving will change me. It’s time to replace entitlement.
What about you? What do you struggle feeling entitled to that can be replaced?