Entitlement Versus Surrender
By: Loisann Witmer, guest contributor
The older I get, the more I see mind and thought patterns in myself that Jesus is gently (and sometimes it feels like not so gently!) trying to change. Like entitlement. When I was a youth, I felt if I worked hard, I deserved a break. Yesterday I housecleaned; today I deserve to go swimming. Since I had to clean up the puked-in crib last night while babysitting, today I should get to enjoy the sun while hanging out laundry. My students were horrible and sleepy and uncooperative today, so now I’ve earned lounge time sipping frappes with co-teachers.
Then I got married and had babies. And then came evenings that the work wasn’t all done by suppertime, and at 9:00 I was still trying to fold laundry and put it away. What’s going on? I thought families are supposed to rest and relax in the evening after supper and enjoy each other—bonding time, quality time. And then we moved to the city. And one by one more entitlement notions keep popping up their ugly heads.
OK, God. We did what You said and moved to this city. But now the neighbors smoke marijuana! Don’t I deserve to at least not have it drifting through the vents into my kitchen and bathroom and permeating the whole house? I’ve heard it’s bad, especially for children, and that breathing it can cause brain damage! Please, please, please, take it away. You’re not taking it away? Well, could you please make them move then, so we don’t have to hear them fight at night, AND have the smoke? Surely, after making us give up so much and come here, You’ll give us at least a relatively comfortable life!
And why do I feel so exhausted some days? Is it the smog, never being able to get out in beauty and just drink deeply of refreshment? Don’t I at least deserve to feel good and have fresh air so I can serve You better?
There’s the fear, too. Yesterday helicopters—NYPD helicopters—hovered over our neighborhood for about fifteen minutes. The cold fingers of fear reached for me, and I stopped and specifically prayed against it. My mind was busy wondering, before I prayed. Why were they hovering here so long? Were they looking for a murderer on the loose? There WAS that man that got shot just 3 days ago, on the street by the park where we often go. God, we’re here. If You’re not going to take away the stink and noise, can’t You at least make it safe?
There are other entitlement theories too. I’m married, and since my whole life rotates now around my Hub, and every day and every night I am to put him first, surely I should be served too. He’s supposed to love me as his own body, so he should help with my work too. Or, since I was up in the night with fussy children, while he blissfully snored through it all, he should sweetly offer to let me sleep in the morning, and bring me breakfast in bed, while he cares for the tots, right?
Our neighbor girls love to come over play here, and I’m excited for the opportunity to speak Truth into their lives. But they’re in and out of the house, tracking sand through our bedroom since that’s the only way to the patio. I need to keep watching them, so I go out back and forget that something’s burning over on my stove. Then I come in to tend my crying baby, and soon a girl comes and reports a puddle out back…whoops! I forgot to keep an eye on Eliana - again! But then they come with us to church. And here it comes… Surely everyone should be proud of us for bringing them and ministering to them and teaching them about God. They really should notice how kind and sweet I am with them, and be inspired to reach out to their neighbors, right? And shouldn’t God make it un-stressful relating to them since it’s such a good thing? Couldn’t He just keep my daughter from hearing their ‘omg’s, and repeating them?
The other day I sat in the early-morning semi-darkness reading my Bible and a book titled True Discipleship and thinking. The song popped into my head, “Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of Ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas? Oh, I must fight if I would win! Increase my courage, Lord! I’ll bear the toil, endure the strain, supported by Thy Word! And when the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown…’’
“It sure looks to me like many are being carried through life on ‘flowery beds of ease’!” I said to Anthony. “And yet, I believe they are going to Heaven. But you know, the more pain a person feels, the deeper his capacity for joy. So maybe in Heaven, the ‘flowery beds’ people will not quite be able to enjoy it so deeply as… oh, some of the rest of us.”
“But, oh, wait,” I said, “it doesn’t work that way because in Heaven we’ll have new bodies. It just seems so unfair that people with easy, happy, comfy lives will get to enjoy Heaven just as much as, say, persecuted people!’’
My dear, wise hubby smiled his easy smile, and repeated Jesus’ words. ‘‘What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.’’
Tears jumped to my eyes, begging to run over my cheeks but I blinked them back. Yes, he was right. It’s another call to surrender. I believe that’s the answer to all my entitlement theories. I must surrender anew—all the fun, all the easiness, all the comfort. Give Him my fears, my pain, my tiredness, my health, my body, my children, my hubby. Just Surrender. And Trust. And Serve. And in that, I find God and a joy that surpasses it all and allows me to go on another day.
Bronx, New York City
Loisann lives in the Bronx, NYC, with her hubby Anthony, and soon-to-be-four children, aged 5 and down. She loves homeschooling, cuddling babies, reading, and entertaining many visitors. Now that she can no longer plant garden, she strives to plant Truth and Encouragement in the hearts of her children, friends, and neighbors. She loves getting email at firstname.lastname@example.org.