Monday, April 18, 2016

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Shattering Entitlement in Us

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. Luke 12:48

Greed. Ingratitude. Entitlement. 

As I've written the last two weeks, we Americans are drowning in it, our kids are drowning in it, and there is no end in sight. 

For quite some time, I've been floating along in my entitlement, naive to what a tremendous impact this was having on myself, my family, my village, the world around me. But now, my eyes have been opened, and I can't un-see what I've seen.

Because I am broken, you are broken, the world is broken...and we need fixing. 

So. How do we fix it? How do we raise grateful children? 

We have to start with ourselves. 

For the record, the author of Raising Grateful Kids... points out the following:

It's okay to want things we don't have, but we also need to remember all we do have. If we are going to compare ourselves to those who have more, we must also compare ourselves to those who have less. 

So what's the answer? How do we begin to shatter our own entitlement? How do we build and reinforce gratitude in ourselves so that we can then do our best to raise grateful children? There are two primary answers, I think:  

Perspective. Mindful gratitude.   

When we have everything, we are thankful for nothing. When we have nothing, we are thankful for everything. 

Or, as guest pastor Clayton King so eloquently stated during his sermon at our church a couple weeks ago, "You don't know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have." 

You know that new boat, new pool, new car, new home, new closet full of clothes your friend just purchased? 

It doesn't matter. At the end of our lives, the stuff won't matter. Right now, it feels important, all that stuff. But it's not. Indeed, 

...we end up buying more stuff because we are trying to purchase happiness or even love, and the excess comes from continually trying to purchase what can't be bought. 

We can't buy happiness. The stuff doesn't matter. What's more, while we covet the luxuries our neighbor has, right now, in our very community, there are people without beds to sleep on, without dependable meals each day, without a reliable mode of transportation, without clean clothes for their children.

Look around. Be thankful for what you have. Know the rest of the world doesn't live like us, in excess and greed and wanting more, more, more

Look around your home. Feel the comfortable couch you are sitting on. Notice the cozy rug beneath your feet. Recognize your full stomach and quenched thirst. Consider the good night's sleep you got in your warm bed. Think about the luxury of getting to go to a building that is full of fresh, clean food and then come back to your safe, clean home and make delicious, healthy meals. Realize that you get to take nice, hot showers daily in clean water that readily comes from the turn of a handle.

And also,  

Instead of complaining about being stuck in traffic, remember that you are so rich that you have a car you get to drive in to get to wherever you want to go. 

Instead of complaining that you have nothing to wear, look at your closet stocked full of clothes and remember that you are so rich that you actually can choose which of many pairs of shoes you get to wear today. 

Instead of complaining that you are tired of getting up early to get your kids off to school, remember that you are so rich that you live in a place where education is not only readily available but required by law.  

We have more than we ever deserve. Let's think about those who have less and be thankful for everything we have. We don't need more stuff. We need more perspective    

Once we gain some perspective, we can continue to shatter entitlement by being truly grateful for what we have and by engaging in underindulgance. The author noted that her family 

...discovered deep satisfaction in serving and loving people other than ourselves.

Honestly? I think in today's self-serving world, this is easier said than done. But. No one ever said this was going to be easy. Yet, here's the thing: studies have shown that  

People who spend money on others rather than themselves are actually happier in the long run.  

So. We don't need all the stuff we think we need (there is a BIG difference between WANT and NEED). You know what we do need? We need to volunteer. We need to give back. We need to spend more money on others than on ourselves. We need to pay it forward.

Can we vow to try to stop focusing on accumulating more stuff and instead focus on being grateful for what we already have and then giving back to those in need? If so, our entitled walls will begin to crumble. Again, this is not going to be easy because this is not how the rest of our entitled, American society works. We will have to choose to individually stand out from the crowd. To stop buying more and thinking we have earned more and insisting we deserve more, which is how our modern, American culture operates. You see,

It's easy to love people like us, those who embrace our beliefs. But it's even more important to love those who aren't like us, people who don't live by absolute truth. We won't show people Jesus with our list of rules; we will be known by our love for each other.

As Glennon Doyle Melton says, "We belong to each other." We can become less entitled by loving one another and helping one another, rather than constantly helping ourselves by focusing on our own selfish pursuits. 
Talk about countercultural. In a world where everything revolves around yourself--protect yourself, promote yourself, comfort yourself, and take care of yourself--Jesus says, "Crucify yourself. Put aside all self-preservation in order to live for God's glorification, no matter what that means for you in the culture around you." -David Platt   

So, there you have it. We are a broken society who are entitled, greedy, ungrateful, and self-serving who are constantly striving for more, more, more. But. We can change this. We should change this. We just need perspective and gratitude. We just need to give, give, give rather than take, take, take. And watch as the walls begin to come down...

Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. Romans 12:2

(P.S. I will FINALLY specifically focus on addressing entitlement in our children in two weeks, when this Mom-ing Through Faith series returns. Next week, I'll interrupt the series for a little something special for a certain birthday boy...).

No comments:

Post a Comment