By Denae Jones –
When my boys were three and seven years old, they decided the bedroom they shared looked too much like a nursery and begged me to let them make it into a race car room. I finally gave in. I let them choose the paint, the bedspreads, and the curtains. We put up shelves with autographed race cars, framed pictures, and signed shirts. I worked many hours getting their room just the way they wanted it. And I have to say, it was not easy for me to paint over the stenciled prayer around the ceiling border and replace it with, ‘Let’s go racing, boys!’. However, I gave them pretty much everything they asked for.
About a week later, one of the boys got mad about something and ran up the steps to his room and threw a car at the wall. It left a car-sized hole, right through the fresh paint. I was so mad. I told him it is not my job to make his room nice. That’s just a bonus. It’s my job to make sure he gets food, shelter, safety, and grow up to be a good kid. In that moment, I thought maybe giving him everything he asked for was not the right thing to do. He wasn’t showing appreciation, he was acting spoiled, and I wanted to rein him back in. So I gave him one pillow and one blanket, and made him sleep just outside the bedroom door. For about three days, he got to watch his brother sleep in the nice room while he looked in from the outside. After I let him back in, he also had to help me patch and re-paint the wall. Maybe that sounds mean, but I guess he learned his lesson because he never did it again.
Maybe that’s how God is with us. It’s not his job to give us everything we ask for. He doesn’t want us to act spoiled. He simply wants us to grow to love Him and love one another. Maybe sometimes that requires teaching us a lesson. God gave Moses everything he needed when he was leading the Israelites out of Egypt, but Moses took that for granted and disobeyed. God taught him a lesson by not allowing him to enter the Promised Land. He had to watch from the outside as Joshua and Caleb led his people instead.
Don’t we sometimes find ourselves caught up in an adult-sized version of the same kind of thing? Different scenario, but same reaction. How often do we actually have everything we need, but somehow it’s still not enough? How often do we get angry because of one thing, and take it out on something or someone else? Usually the ones that are closest to us. How often do we take for granted the beautiful things in our lives, or fail to show appreciation? How often do we leave an ego-sized hole, right through the relationships that matter most?
For example, sometimes we complain about having to do unexpected repairs to the house, but then remember how many have just lost their homes to hurricanes or fires. We are fortunate to have a home to re-model. Or maybe our family is driving us crazy! But there are many who are lonely and would love to be surrounded by family like that. Sometimes we go out of our way to do something nice for someone else, and then they don’t even say thank you. Let’s think about why we did it in the first place. Was it to get recognition and thanks, or to simply do the right thing? Whether or not they appreciate it is really none of our business.
Maybe sometimes we need to stop and take a look from the outside in order to fully appreciate what we already have. Maybe if we pause to appreciate what we’ve got on the front side, we won’t have to learn the hard lessons on the back side. If we are given everything we asked for, let us be grateful. If we are not given anything we ask for, let us still be grateful, because it is almost always used as a lesson to make us a better version of ourselves.
Have a blessed week, friends!