I don’t usually say it out loud because in most situations the words come out sounding like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum, but they’re inside of me. I know because they often slip out in my worst moments.
I notice my I deserves the most when I’m leading mission teams outside of the US with VisionTrust. In fact, there was this really terrible moment on my Brazil team where the beans were running low as kids came back for a third helping and I hadn’t eaten yet…
I’m up here serving and you're giving all the food away, I’m not going to get any! If anyone deserves this food, it’s the one serving you.
Even typing that, admitting my terrible thoughts to you, makes me sick. Trust me, I recognized in that moment how awful it was—these are children who rarely get three meals a day, I didn’t cook the food, I was on this trip to serve, they fed us crazy well in Brazil, the list goes on…but I really wanted those beans. (Talk about hangry.) In the moment this unfounded expectation bubbled up inside of me without even thinking about it, I deserved them.
This might seem like a small example, but it shows how deeply ingrained the idea is in me. After a little soul searching, I realized the truth of it is that I think I deserve certain amenities because I try to be obedient to God and therefore He owes me.
Gosh that sounds bad, that sounds really bad. But it has to be said because I see it in myself, in our culture, and in a lot of Christians. It’s subconscious, but clear: if I’m a good person, then God owes me a good life. The danger is that this causes real struggle when something goes wrong and shatters our expectations.
The kids I meet around the world serve to remind me: I did nothing to deserve being born in America. I did nothing to have amazing parents. I did nothing to deserve Jesus dying on the cross for me. These kids did nothing to be born into poverty. They did nothing to deserve absent parents. They also did nothing to deserve Jesus dying on the cross.
The majority of my I deserves (those unrelated to standing up for myself with healthy emotional boundaries) are entirely unfounded. I deserve is just another way to compare myself to others and it serves only to steal my joy.
This recognition helps me to re-evaluate the good and the bad, and allows me to see the moments set before me as gifts I don’t deserve, but have graciously been given. I’m working to strike I deserve from my soul so I can be truly thankful for what I’m given.
Maybe you’d care to join me?