Deserve

Deserving.

You hear it everywhere:

“I deserved better.”

Or

“She doesn’t deserve him”

Or

“He doesn’t deserve that (job, house, car, whatever.)”

Or

“I didn’t deserve to be treated like that!”

If you grew up with background similar to mine, chances are you have a unease with the word “deserve.” For Christians the word deserve can reflect over-reaching expectations or even entitlement. We are told because of our sin, we “deserve” death and only the grace of Jesus Christ gives us good in our lives. It’s not about deserving, it’s about mercy.

However, I’ll admit I’ve gone through many struggles during my walk with Christ. Not so much about entitlement, per se. Rather a deep disappointment with the way things have gone.

“Don’t I deserve it as much as her/him?”

“Haven’t I been obedient?” “Haven’t I done good works?”  “Haven’t I deserved more than this?”

Ugh. Comparison.

And even in compassion I’ll look at someone in strife and think, “He/She doesn’t deserve this pain.”

It’s not about deserving is it? We deserve the grave, yes. But more than this, we need to come to an agreement – we live inside a fallen world and despite our prayers, desires and actions – sometimes the blessings/answers/healing remain far away or never come.

And it really sucks.

I was thinking beyond deserving earlier today. I have a few items in my prayers which might come across as expectations. The difference is, I believe through prayer and reading the Word, God has instructed me to pray in this way. It’s not my expectation, rather His plan.

For instance, God may be leading you to pray for prosperity so that you may bless others. He may want you to let something “good” go – even if it seems illogical – so He may take you farther, bless you further.

How can we change our language to reflect a better way? Sometimes God is calling us to a good thing – in His grace. Not because we deserve it or have earned it. We know well enough that’s not possible. He is inviting us to be in His likeness – in power and justice and blessing.  We can choose to accept His invitation in humility. We can opt for waiting and not pushing our agendas and wants. We do deserve the grave, but God deserves the infinite best. He is always looking beyond our petty comparisons and desiring our obedience.

I deserve the grave, but I will choose obedience.

Thy will be done, Oh God. Thy will be done.

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The Bad Girl

 

 

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Do me a favour.

Take your thumb and place it right in the middle of your sternum. Below the heart. Above the diaphragm.

Are you doing it?

Okay.

Now press.

Hard.

I want you to imagine that spot. Right where you pressed your thumb to flesh. I want you to imagine a dark, oppressive pain. Not a mortal wound, but a chronic ache, a daily reminder of its existence.

This is my pain. Right in the middle of my chest. Most days? Hardly noticeable. Somedays? Impossible to ignore.

When I was a baby girl – just a toddler – I had a poisoning incident. Up until age two, I was a normal, happy, bubbly, little girl. But when I escaped from my bath and toddled out the back door and saw the can of BBQ fluid which looked so much like a can of soda – something changed. I went from robust health to critically ill in a moment. Because that fluid didn’t just enter my stomach. It’s trickled down into my lungs. A delicate system further compromised by toxic chemical.

After nights of touch and go, I was declared a miracle.  Sure, I needed some aggressive chest pounding therapy. Yet, healed. Physically. Except the lingering dark spots on my lungs. But healing.

However spiritually? I remained critical.

Although I recovered in body, my spirit took on lifelong damage. While healing my body, my tiny soul embarked on a new fight. A fight to belong. A fight to be accepted. That delicate time of childhood crushed by pain. A pain taken personally. You see, a child under five can’t reason the difference between physical pain or emotional pain. And somehow, little me translated excruciating physical pain into punishment. That I must have deserved the pain. I was a bad girl.

Physically I recuperated, but emotionally and spiritually I remained damaged. The damage to my lungs slowly healed, yet that dark, black spot remained imbedded in my chest.

The black spot has followed me throughout my life. When pain happens, an arrow hits me square in the ribs. And rejection. And disappointment. And failure. A reminder. An ache – heart broken, but I deserve it. I have been a bad girl.

My experience with the “bad girl” curse means shame and anger still linger. In any good, I still expect the bad to follow.  I’d like to tell you I’m all better now. But that would be a lie. The truth is some days it’s worse than ever. As time marches on and my circumstances don’t change and I make the same mistakes and I am alone and lonely and desperate and depressed – that damn spot is a reminder that I don’t warrant the good stuff. I’ve been a bad girl.

The question is: how do I rid myself of that spot? If it were as easy as a simple prayer, I would have been freed years ago. Maybe, like Paul, it’s my thorn in the flesh?

I don’t know.

I question: do I merit hope? It’s taken such a beating lately. It seems easier to tuck it away and accept that life is not abundant. Should I live without expectations? It’s impossible to not compare yourself to others and ask: “why not me?”  And when the answer is “no,” always “no,” – where do you go? What do you believe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Day Closer

“One day closer…” he said.

Walking to work early in the morning and seeing the first light of a new day dawning. The immense beauty of God’s creation on display. And joy overwhelming. Reminding him – we are one day closer. Thank you, dear friend. For the reminder. At first, I was worried about your emotional state – but then I realized the gorgeousness of this simple phrase. (Thank you, Norm Grube!)

“One day closer.”

I’ve written plenty about my own suffering. Skating so close to the edge of self-pity that I’ve fallen and become bored of myself. Suffering is a common condition in the human experience. We all suffer.

But then a week like this past one comes along. And you recognize how MUCH it’s not about you.

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Refugees. Conflict. Hatred. Dishonor. Lack of character in leadership.

And so much helplessness.

What can we do?

Pray?

Seems so little.

Give?

Again – a drop in the bucket.

Now, what about when it hits closer to home?

 

One friend suffering in addiction.

Another so lonely that life seems too much and she wants it to end.

And then the oldest, dearest, most joyful and beautiful friend receiving uncertain news about her health. (Oh God! Hasn’t she been through enough?)

Then lastly, the precious parent. So, beautiful. So, loved. Fearing the future. Is this a temporary thing or is the new reality?

Lord Jesus Christ! Have mercy on us!

What do we do?

Pray? Yes. Yes. Yes! Always pray. Be in communion with the One who loves us – ALWAYS.

But beyond that, what do we do?

Be reminded: we are one day closer.

 

One day closer when the suffering will end.

One day closer to the perfect story finally reaching its climax.

One day closer to unexplainable joy, peace that goes beyond all understanding and most of all: Love.

Love that surpasses anything this world offers. Love forever.

And it’s that love. The unbelievable, unconditional, indescribable, all-encompassing love that gives us one more gift:

Hope.

In the beauty of the creation around us.

In limiting the number of our days, so sin can’t rule us for too long.

We are thankfully and gracefully, one day closer You. Eternally You.

 

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