Destructive entitlement underlies so many stories in the news these days. Abusers ruining the lives of children. Dictators tyrannizing over their countrymen. Celebrities showing up without their common courtesy. Even shoppers pepper-spraying each other for the holiday's gimmicky gadgets. Destructive entitlement says "I deserve whatever I want, regardless of the consequences." And it's easy to see destructive entitlement in the big, bad behavior that makes the news.
But today I was thinking about how destructive entitlement creeps into the lives of us ordinary people, too. How easy it is for "I deserve" to become entrenched in our brains, and to make a mess in our lives.
"I deserve" can keep you stuck in grief. "I deserve ____ (to have a certain job, to live in a certain place, to have a certain standard of living, to have children who behave a certain way) and if I lose it, I deserve to grieve forever. I'm never going to get over this."
"I deserve" can keep you stuck in unforgiveness. "This person did this to me. I deserve to be angry, and I will hold onto my anger, no matter how harmful it is to me and the people around me."
"I deserve" will wreck your family. "I deserve to yell at my kids when I'm in a bad mood." "I deserve to blow the family budget." "I deserve to have this relationship on the side because it makes me happy."
"I deserve" sometimes comes as a pendulum swing after years of "I don't matter." You've never been on the list, and "I deserve" means you ARE the list. It seems like the perfect answer to the problem. Maybe it even works for a while.
I think, for me anyway, "I deserve" happens when I'm mad at God for not doing things the way I want. I know in my head, theoretically anyway, that He has redemption and healing for me. But that takes so long and I'm angry and hurting right now.
"I deserve" says I'd rather have whatever makes me feel better in the moment.
And I think "I deserve" happens a lot more than I realize.