I recently received a postcard in the mail from a local massage parlor, offering me a $5-off coupon for my birthday. The ridiculous non-incentive aside (ahem, $5? Really?), plastered across the top were the words, "You deserve it!"
My husband knows, but I nearly scream (okay, yeah, I do) every time I see these words. I'm a little more polite when people say them to me, but I inwardly cringe all the same (after all, they mean well).
The "I deserve it" mentality gives us leg room to complain our way into a "better life"--a higher standing. It urges us to push servant-hood away, because after all, I've done enough. Now, it's about me.
Lately, I've been trying to teach the kids what it means to practice gratitude--to let it permeate your attitude and actions (big shout-out to our church for helping to reinforce that practice).
We've focused on Scripture that references not just praising and thanking the Lord, but verses that talk about how sinful we are. Because until we understand the depth of our fallen nature, we won't be able to live in humble gratitude for what is before us. We've studied pictures of children's homes across the globe, eaten meals of just beans and rice and talked about what we can give up for others.
One question we keep asking our daughter is this, "What is the most important thing we have to be thankful for?"
We get the Sunday School answer (Jesus), but we always take it further, "And why is that?"
"Because even when we don't have anything else, we still have Jesus."
And He is all we need.
And SO much more than we deserve.
Now, as a disclaimer, I am not referring here to neglect. We don't subject ourselves to abuse or ignore time alone for the sake of selflessness. In order to pour out, one has to fill up and we can't fill up unless we are spending time alone with the Lord. Yes, we need to nourish our spirits so we are better equipped, and no, we shouldn't take on a "Super-Mom" mentality that says, "I can do it all."
Pride trips us into both pits.
What I am referring to is this attitude that says, "I am worth more than you," or "I've put in my time, now pay up," or "I've given you this, so give me...."
What does our spirit say? When we receive a gift, but it isn't exactly what we would have picked for ourselves, are we genuinely thankful or do we complain? Do you expect reciprocation from someone you've helped? Do we look at someone's house, wedding ring, or car and feel discontent, ripped off, frustrated? Do our feelings get hurt easily?
Because it may seem cliched, but everything is grace to us. Everything.
This breath. ...That one.
This home, This country. This family.
This ability to read. To see. To walk.
This greatest gift of mercy.
That though we deserve
We have been freely given what we don't deserve:
and eternity with our Creator and Savior.
Remember that pride often fuels our words "I deserve it" and pride will never leave us fulfilled. Pride will deservedly lead us into frustration, emptiness and despair.