A dirty word. I’ve grown up hearing this word thrown around a lot, usually used in reference to someone demanding they be given something they haven’t worked for, assuming wrongly that they deserve something. Essentially, throwing a tantrum.
I’ve heard this word even more lately, given the political climate here in the US, and specifically in the South. It’s usually used in reference to people demanding rights from the government, demanding they be taken care of…those living on the dole.
I could wax eloquent on the topic of welfare but I won’t do that here. Instead, I’m going to talk about myself.
I am searching myself.
I’ve been throwing a lot of tantrums lately. Most of them I keep to myself, but I throw them nonetheless. I find myself getting angry at those closest to me over seemingly petty things. Much like my two-year-old son. “It’s time to come inside for dinner.” Kicking and screaming that the entire neighbourhood could hear. “You can’t play with knives, Kai.” You’d think I had broken his heart. “Sorry, I forgot to take out the garbage.” Silent treatment and cold shoulder from me for the rest of the day. “Sorry, I don’t have time to…” Venting to my sister and friend. What is wrong with me???
I asked my sister the other day if I was being ridiculous. Her exact words were: “Have you considered that maybe you are expecting everyone to completely rearrange their lives to accommodate your needs and it might be putting a lot of stress on them?” Thank God for my sister. Over the last thirty years or so I’ve learned that she will never conform to my expectations. She is my link to reality when I push everyone else away, the only one not afraid to be completely, brutally honest with me. I hate her and love her and need her for it.
Entitled. I have come to the conclusion that that’s what I am. In these post-election days when this word is being thrown around, I am looking at ME. Waiting in a restaurant when service is slower than my ideal; dealing with a salesperson who isn’t as attentive as I’d like; family members who don’t adhere to my plans or have the same concept of time as I do…I could go on.
“Have you considered that maybe you are expecting everyone to completely rearrange their lives to accommodate your needs and it might be putting a lot of stress on them?”
Essentially, I believe the world should function according to my expectations. It’s not really about the forgotten garbage, slow service, etc. It’s about frustration that I am not in control.
Can you relate?
I like to think I’m a patient, understanding person. I try, at least. But I think sometimes the ugliness within comes to a head when it’s time to mature and grow past a certain fault. I don’t know where this entitlement has come from—maybe it’s just the human condition. But I am seeing how it stifles growth.
I often here the Voice most clearly when I’m doing everyday things. As I was cooking yesterday, the Voice asked me a question: “Do you want to remain in the liminal space?” I then envisioned a picture— multiple parallel timelines that all exist in the same point in time—Liminality in many difference aspects of life. A potential prevention of progress in any of them is this hideous entitlement. Demanding what I deserve will stop me from becoming what I am meant to be every time.
- My eye is off the prize. My focus turns to what appears to be the faults of others, to their not aligning with my own ideals.
- My own ideals become the goal. Nothing higher.
- No faith is required for ideals that I can envision.
- Where there is no faith, there is no humility, and where there is no humility, there is no growth.
This has been a humbling realization. I am catching myself in my entitlement and it isn’t pretty. It’s small and whining and spoiled. Growth is not easy or pleasant. But it is so worth it.
It is impossible to live without ever getting upset. It would be unhealthy to try to do so. BUT I am checking my thoughts and feelings. Refusing to allow a loop of negativity to play in my head when I get annoyed. Asking myself, “Is this annoyance worth my time?” It usually isn’t.
Making a conscious effort to keep my attention on the positive. When I catch myself thinking good thoughts, I purposely stay in that mindset for a while, dwell on the blessing, no matter how small.
I believe that something good is always on the way, that the divine plan always works itself out. Reaching it may require hardships, but as I said, growth is always worth the difficulty.
I have provisions. I am safe. I am loved tremendously. Focusing on all that I have to be thankful for, all I’ve received without deserving, immediately brings a healthy dose of humility. This one is the most important.
It seems especially appropriate to be thankful in this season. Today I’m thankful for my son and his passionate tantrums because I see that through them he’s learning. I’m thankful for my husband, even if he forgets to take out the garbage, because he teaches me unconditional love in so many ways. I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by so many friends and family so willing to offer grace and patience to me while I learn. I’m thankful for cold weather and warm blankets. I’m thankful for you.