I sat in McAllisters debating silently with the convincing sign on the table in front of me. It whispered that subtle lie. This time those three words nearly won the argument because there was an element of truth to what they said.
After all, my alarm went off that Saturday morning at 5:20 a.m. By breakfast at 7:00 a.m. I washed, folded and distributed two sets of soccer uniforms for 24 high school boys. After breakfast in the hotel, we made peanut butter sandwiches for the team (their lunch between games) and then I sat in the bleachers for two hours for a game that my son couldn’t play in because he was sick.
So when I sat in the restaurant waiting for them to call my name with our to-go order–no PBJs for us at lunch, I was a little dull from the morning activities. The picture of the cheesecake enticed me, but the words lured me in even more.
“You deserve it.”
Yes, I felt like I deserved a little treat. And one sweet treat wasn’t going to cause much damage. But although a little dessert wouldn’t hurt, I couldn’t help but think about how much harm that phrase—“you deserve it”–has caused.
Sometimes it’s actually true—you welcome a raise, a day off, or a helping hand in the kitchen because, well, you deserve it. There is nothing wrong with getting what you deserve, although there is no guarantee that it will happen (the score of the last soccer game was a reminder of that).
The problem is –
- we think we deserve so much more than we really do.
- we cling to what we think we deserve tight enough that it squeezes the joy out of our lives.
If you are unsure whether you’ve fallen for this little lie, I’ll share four ways that it reveals its ugly face. You deserve to know the damage it causes…
- Ungrateful— If you find yourself receiving goodness without gratitude in your heart, you may be letting those words, “You deserve it,” rob you of some joy in your life. After all, why should you give thanks as if someone is doing you a favor when you deserve it, right? That phrase nourishes the pride in the heart and chokes out the gratitude, whether it’s true or not. I neglect to give thanks to God, my husband and so many others when I feel smug about what I deserve–whether it’s a good day, good health or a good night kiss.
- Resentful— If you find yourself going through the motions with a grudging heart, you may want to consider if you need to let go of some rights or rewards that you think you deserve. Rarely do we receive everything that we deserve, much less the inflated list of things we think we deserve. You deserve a break, you deserve a raise, you deserve some gratitude—maybe so, maybe not. But when we stew over it long enough, resentment takes root and permeates the home, the marriage or the office.
- Over-indulgence. Maybe it’s as simple as another bowl of ice-cream after a stressful day or as big as a new car you can’t afford. That simple phrase, “You deserve it!” justifies over-indulgence and causes damage on many fronts–relationships, the bank account and the waistline to mention a few. Even when you know you’re crossing the line of self-control, you go ahead and indulge because, well, you deserve it, right?
- Discontentment—Are you hard to please? Does it seem like it’s never quite enough, whatever “it” is? The inflated list of what we think we deserve robs us of a content heart. The advertising world bombards us about what we deserve–a faster car, bigger home a smarter phone, a chocolate covered cheesecake. We believe we deserve it and are discontent if we don’t have it.
If you see any of those four traits in your life, you may want to take an inventory of what you think you deserve. You may be clinging too tightly to an inflated list (Why you need to loosen your grip). Jesus didn’t allow his life to be dictated by what he deserved, so I shouldn’t either.
I didn’t stay for dessert at McAllisters, but on the road trip home I did reflect on that catchy phrase, “You deserve it.” And I decided that you deserved to beware of four ways this lie creeps into our heart.
How has this lie revealed itself in your own life?