I have a lot of friends going through breakups right now. You know what comes up a lot when we talk about breakups? “What we deserve.” We use that as a consolation, a condolence, a balm on a wound. We reassure with the best of intentions, because we affirm the value of the people in our lives.
Tim Keller comments that the world tells us that there are things we deserve, and that we should fight for, and not settle for less than, that. But, he goes on to say that our Christian walk directly disagrees with that philosophy! Instead of what we deserve, our faith teaches us that we have everything we need in Jesus (check out Psalm 23 for a great prayer for this subject!) And it goes even further to say that we can live in a state of abundance, gratitude, and contentment, no matter what hand we might be dealt by circumstances at any given moment.
You see, everything changes when we change what we think we deserve.
I’ve noticed this troubling attitude of entitlement – focusing on what I think I deserve - in myself recently, and it is really an obstacle to all of the relationships we are called to have with God and with one another. And while I wanted to root out this crappy perspective, I was still focusing on myself to do that.
My entitlement says a lot more about what I think about God than it does what I think about myself.
If I trust God, then I trust His plans, and I believe that God isn’t held back by what His people have earned or worked for. In fact, He thrives in His parental role by loving us abundantly beyond what we deserve.
So, trusting Him is actually the antidote to my entitlement, because when I put my trust in His plans, I am choosing to submit to the idea that He knows better than I do, that His plans for me are good, and that if I don’t get what I “deserve,” then I am probably being rescued from some terrible consequences.
In leadership and in life, I find myself getting too focused in on my small understanding of what I want and those things I think I deserve. It’s when I zoom out from those problems and concerns that I am reminded of how big God is and how exponentially wider His perspective is than mine. That’s what I come back to when I’ve become hopelessly focused on myself, and that’s what I’m trying to remember to encourage in my friends and community when the shallow consolation of “what we deserve” just doesn’t cut it.
“God seems to be an unwilling participant in our efforts to pigeonhole Him. The minute we think we’ve arrived at the most expansive sense of who God is, ‘this Great, Wild God,’ as the poet Hafez writes, breaks through the claustrophobia of our own articulation, and things get large again.”
- Father Greg Boyl