Our family has lived in several places where there is a significant ex-pat population. Groups of people living and working not in their ‘home country.’ To be frank, sometimes you see a fair bit of entitlement from ex-pats.
In Africa, it can look like an employer saying to someone: ‘this is going to be so hard – but we’ll do everything possible to help you. We’ve arranged a house and a car for you, and school for your kids are taken care of. You’ll have a house helper and a cleaner, and a driver and we’ve arranged for someone to buy your groceries, and take care of all your paperwork.” Then someone responds with ‘I deserve better than this…do you KNOW WHAT I”VE GIVEN UP to be here?!”
We all get used to living at a certain comfort level, and it grates on us when we feel someone who has it easier than us complains. You can hear a couple who has one child, the mother stays at home and has someone full time to help. The husband’s job is very flexible and works from home half the time. When you hear them talk about how it’s impossible to do anything other than feed themselves I tend to think of how when our third was born, we had a 2 and 4-year-old. I had a new job, we were renovating our house ourselves and at one point didn’t even have a working bathroom on the main floor. We didn’t have a nanny or house cleaner. Then I compare that the families who live around us here in rural Burundi. None have running water or electricity. They mostly have 5 or more kids, and live in a one-room mud-brick house. If they are relatively well off- they have a clay-tile roof. They work the fields, collect firewood, cook on an open stove, fetch water every day. All to survive. And here I am all self-righteous and proud of how low-maintenance I am. In reality, I am just as entitled as anyone – if not more so- I just set the bar a slightly different place
We will never be content when we think we deserve better. When we think we deserve more. Or even when we think we deserve what we currently have. We’ll struggle as long as we think we’re due something. That somebody owes us. That life owes us.
There is no way to be content when we think we don’t currently have what we should. What we ought. That nagging feeling that ‘I deserve better’ sneaks up on us, and it is deadly.
Sure, fine….but I deserve ______________.
What is it that you use to fill in the blank? This house. To be respected. To have people appreciate what I do. To have a family that…..
What is it that you fill in the blank with? Be honest. What do you think you deserve. Because, I think if we accept the Bible, the only words we can truthfully put in that blank are “death” or “life apart from God.” Anything better than that is a gift. That we didn’t deserve.
Think about the things that you feel you deserve, that are actually incredibly gracious, generous, undeserved gifts.
My dear Lord,
though I am so very weak that I have not strength to ask you for suffering as a gift,
at least I will beg from you grace to meet suffering well when you in your love and wisdom bring it on me.
Let me bear pain, reproach, disappointment, slander, anxiety, suspense, as you want me to, O my Jesus,
and as you have taught me by your own suffering, when it does come.
John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890)