Well, you guys, I wrote the previous blog post this weekend, and then one of my holds came in at the library: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, by Kristen Welch.
I started reading it hoping to find some practical tips to help me teach my children to complain less, but what I didn’t expect was to crack open the book and immediately feel convicted for my own complaining. Reading Kristen Welch’s description of our entitlement culture exposed my own subtle feelings of entitlement, which I’ve been blind to of late. I realize that underneath my so-called “disappointment” with our house process is a belief that I deserve better.
I deserve a bigger house, or at least a bigger kitchen. I deserve another bathroom. I deserve more storage space. I deserve a prettier front yard. I do not deserve to have to wait as long as I have for our building project, and then subject myself to a process of renovations that will be uncomfortable and stressful.
God, don’t You know I now have four kids — two of them I adopted, which is no easy task — and I stay home with them all day and educate them, and my husband and I are in ministry!? I need a bigger, better house! Now!
And if I can’t get it now, then I want to spend money and buy new things and have fun experiences to make me feel better about waiting.
It’s pretty ugly, isn’t it?
How did I get here?
I don’t deserve any of this. What I deserve, thankfully, God has protected me from by His salvation. And that and anything beyond it is a free gift. He owes me absolutely nothing.
I rebuke my kids for always wanting more toys and treats, wanting to know what fun thing we’re doing next, complaining when they’re bored. And yet my heart is just as sinful as theirs. Actually it’s more so — I have 34 years under my belt of witnessing God’s faithfulness and provision to grow gratitude in my heart. I know that stuff doesn’t bring happiness.
I’ve seen the way other people live — both people in other parts of the world, and also friends here in our city: in the projects or the halfway house, one who’s currently in a state correctional facility, which, quite honestly, is probably better than being homeless, which he’s also experienced.
And I think I somehow deserve more?
After reading a couple chapters of Raising Grateful Kids, I felt instantly ashamed of my last post and wanted to take it down. But I won’t. It’s part of my process, and that process is not always noble, I’m afraid.
I’m thankful for Kristen Welch’s book, for her wise words that say that the entitlement in our household begins with us grown-ups — how can we expect gratitude and contentment from our kids that we ourselves don’t have?
I know I already mentioned that I’ve been fighting for gratitude, but now I want to fight harder. You can’t be content and also feel sorry for yourself. The pity party stops right here.
If we have to wait two more Christmases for another bathroom, that’s what we’ll do, and we’ll be just fine. I have everything I need. Here’s what I’m thankful for today:
1. We have a house
2. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer
3. We have running water and electricity and an indoor bathroom
4. We have money to fix things that break
5. We have a roof that doesn’t leak
6. We have a beautiful backyard that is fenced-in, with space for our children to run and play
7. We have lots of windows and pretty things to look at and comfortable furniture. We have a bed for everyone in the family.
8. We have toys and games and clothes and lots of books.
9. We have a refrigerator and pantry full of food (we have a refrigerator! and a pantry!). We do not go hungry, or wonder where our next meal will come from.
10. God is very, very patient with me. He shows me my sin and brings repentance, so that I can be free. A contented life is a joyful life.
Those are just the first ten. I can keep going for a long time.
Starting now, these are the things I focus on, instead of what I don’t have or what I’m waiting for.
I feel lighter already.
P.S. As you can probably tell, I highly recommend Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World! I’m almost finished, and David just started it. These are exactly the words I needed right now, and I really appreciate the honest, practical, hopeful way Kristen Welch brings us along on her family’s journey.