A {Very} Short Word on Entitlement and Gratitude

Yes, I’m alive and posting again (more writing to come soon–all will be explained)! This is short and sweet but I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me about this issue after church Sunday. Perhaps it will speak to you as well.

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     It’s impossible for a person to be grateful when they possess an attitude of entitlement. Entitlement stifles gratefulness which further fuels attitudes of entitlement. And when people finally get tired of dealing with the entitlement attitude and draw boundaries, the entitled person becomes resentful, blaming everyone else for their misfortunes rather than accepting personal responsibility. Long story short, be GRATEFUL and refuse to believe you’re “owed” something from anyone. Work for what you want. Make your own way. And when you’re in a good place, turn around and help others as you’ve been helped. An attitude of gratitude is evident in one’s actions not just words.

Even the Pomegranates Cry Out

Chop. Chop. Chop.

I seem to have the best God-moments when I’m feverishly hacking away on a helpless piece of food, trying to work out my anger. It has come to be a habit. We fight—I cook. It’s how I wrestle with my emotions, think, pray, and take several deep breaths while annihilating a target other than my spouse.

“Ok, God, I know what you said in 1 Corinthians 10:13, I’ll never forget that verse…but, I’m starting to think You enjoy taking me to the edge of what I can handle.”

Chop. Chop. Chop.

Silence.

“Ok, You’re not talking. That’s ok, I have plenty to say…”

If God could get frustrated, I am sure I’d be His number one cause of irritation. “Oh, here’s Rebecca again, whining like it’s the end of the world. If only she knew how bad it could really be, maybe then she’d be grateful.”

Of course, I know God isn’t really thinking that towards me, in fact, what He is thinking about me is too mind blowing to comprehend. For example, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—the fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)

Oh, and speaking of fruit? Yeah, I was carving up several pieces of fruit to make a fresh fruit salad while conversing with God in a less-than-humble way.  He never spoke to me in those heated moments, not audibly at least. But He did find a way to cut through my incessant ramblings of self-pity.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy seeing God in nature—all facets of nature from animals to the weather to food. My social media friends are well aware of this due to the multitude of pictures I post of the food I’m cooking, the clouds in the sky, or my dog acting exceptionally cute. Creation is beautiful, and in it I am made aware of God’s presence in the details.

Slice. Slice.

285-Pomegranate

 

And then it opened and my breath was taken away. As the crimson juices ran over my fingers and the seeds spilled out my thoughts were interrupted. “Oh, Lord, it’s so beautiful! It’s like a honeycomb giving birth to rubies!” And for a second I was so captivated by the gorgeous intricacies of that pomegranate that my self-centered complaints were replaced with worship and gratitude.

How could I ever doubt a God who took so much time carefully designing every piece of fruit to not only taste good, but look good as well? But doubt I do—and often. It’s so easy to forget in the heat of the moment. To forget all things good and grateful and focus on the ugly and distasteful.

Fortunately, God is not surprised by any of this. He knows what I will say, how I will react, and whether or not I’ll confess it. He knows I will continue to grieve His spirit unintentionally when I allow bitterness to take root, and He knows the exact moment I will fall on my knees and give it all to Him and choose peace.

When my voice fails to speak of His love, surely the pomegranates cry out in my place.

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” Psalm 63:5  

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, a contributing writer for Encourage 365, founder and creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of other publications. She just released her latest Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

Serving Spouses

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Yesterday my husband arrived home from work much earlier than usual. Normally this sends me in a panic, having developed a steady routine I don’t like interrupted. I took a moment to refocus on my calling (having just finished writing about it) and prepared to be confronted with ways to “practice what I preach”.

Within a half hour he was suggesting going places and doing things I was completely uninterested in. I found myself blurting out “ok, let’s go” before I even knew what was happening. (Thanks, God.) It’s amazing how well things go when an attitude is changed. Knowing that I was first and foremost being obedient to Christ allowed me to enjoy the process of serving my husband.

There have been many times in the past I grudgingly went along with what he wanted to do, but my horrible attitude ruined the process for us both.  God has used the good and bad experiences to teach me what it means to be a servant-help-meet to my husband. One day my husband, surprised by my attitude changes, exclaimed, “What’s gotten into you?!” Oh, not much, honey, just the Holy Spirit’s conviction!

I’d love to end this note with a “happily-ever-after” statement of my husband’s changed heart for Jesus, but I cannot do that-yet. I do believe 1 Peter 3:1-2₁and the principles it outlines. My husband may very well have a change of heart someday because he saw God’s change in my heart first. It’s not just about being different then I was eight years ago when we met; it’s about a heart change that’s only explained by the supernatural power of the Living God. My husband is still of the thought that “all good things come to an end”, sitting back waiting for me to “get over it” with “religion”. It’s been several years and he’s stubborn to say the least, but I know no matter how long it takes, my calling to love, honor, obey, and commitment in prayer over him will never change, even if he never changes.

Can you imagine how decades of loving service, submission, respect and companionship could possibly affect him? It may take that long, it may not. It may never happen. In any case, it’s what I’ve been called to do. In fact, it’s what every wife has been called to do, regardless of their husband’s spiritual state.

I’ve been counseled by women of faith to divorce my husband over our differences, and, having already been divorced I’ll admit it was enticing at one point. But God hasn’t called me to take the easy way out. I’ve made it clear to my husband that if he ever brought home divorce papers, no matter what happened, I would not sign them-ever. I believe that is what God called me to do; relentlessly pursue reconciliation at all costs and refuse to give up.

In a message a few weeks ago at church, Pastor Pat said something that had me in tears. He talked about doing the best we can with what we’ve been given right where we are, and at that moment God spoke to my heart, “serve him”. That was my calling, that was how I could do the best with what I had where I was-serving my husband. I grieved thinking how often I had an attitude about getting up at 2:30am to make his breakfast before he went to work, and how many times I had refused to do it then complained at the end of the week how much money he spent eating out (poor guy).

I’m not perfect, and confessing my failures being a servant-wife is frequent in my prayer life, however God’s mercies are new every morning₂ and He provides ample opportunities to show love to my husband through service.  I challenge you, if you’re a wife, to ask God how you can better serve your husband today. Not just the regular “cleaning up after him” sort of things, but something extraordinary. Something that would make him exclaim, “what’s gotten into you?!” And if you’re a husband, you’re not off the hook. Loving your wife as Christ loves the church₃ is a high calling not to be taken for granted (in fact, it’s impossible to love your wife as described in Ephesians without His indwelling spirit). Meanwhile, be thankful to your wife when you see she’s making an effort. Let her know you appreciate it and watch her be motivated to do more!

The following Scripture quotes have been taken from the New International Version.

  1. 1 Peter 3:1-2 “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
  2. Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
  3. Ephesians 5:25-30 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-for we are all members of his body.”

Validation

“You are truly one of God’s special ones…You are part of a rare breed, Rebecca, and I am thrilled to work with you,” my instructor recently wrote me, someone with a bachelor and master’s degrees in education and writing.

There’s been a consistent theme in my ministry of writing; I never seem to get validation from the people closest to me including family. In fact, most of them never read anything I write. I’m not sure why, but I think my past has something to do with it. Sometimes when you know a person well and the things they’ve done, it’s hard to see them in any other light then the failures they’ve mastered.

God has used these circumstances to do two things. One, he has shown me my own heart. I’m made aware of how I care what people think when only God’s voice matters. Two, he uses other people, people I don’t know personally, to confirm my ministry. In other words, he works in ways I don’t expect. Isn’t that how He usually does things? You’d think I’d have figured that out by now.

Right when I’m feeling bluesy that no one in my life seems to care, God gives me the gift of validation. Yes, abiding in his will is enough confirmation for me, but He knows how I have longed for the approval of loved ones and have rarely gotten it. Instead, he gives me little gifts like comments from my teacher or praises from my editor. He reminds me that these compliments are gifts from Him and he chooses to speak my love language out of his great compassion for me.

Reminded of his grace, my flame ignites hot to press on and continue my education as well as pursuing my God-given goals. He’s there encouraging me every step. He only gives me enough to chew on for the moment, though, and reminds me to continually seek Him in humility and gratitude.

This morning I’m about to leave for church and I eagerly pursue my opportunity to sing praises to the Lover of my soul, the ultimate Validator.

“The Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in honor and sing for joy in their beds.” Psalm 149:4-5

Promises in the Rain

“Mommy, mommy!” Samantha raced into my bathroom where I was comfortably relaxing in the shower.

“What is it?” I poked my head out thinking someone or something was on fire.

“Mommy, it’s raining!”

“Ohhhhh….” was the resignated realization of a promise I had made to her the previous weekend. The weather report had predicted rain, and she had begged me to let her play in the mud puddles. I agreed. Then the clouds opened up and it didn’t rain. I had succesfully dodged that bullet, until today.

“Fantastic,” I thought, “I have so many things to do today, and standing in the pouring rain while my 4 year old jumps in the mud isn’t on my list.”

You need to honor your promise.

Sigh. “Ok, Lord, I will honor my promise.”

I got out of the shower and ready to stand in the rain. It occured to me I should bring my camera and record the one time I agreed to let my little girl splash in the mud. Samantha was in her pajamas and flip-flops and we set out. I was immediately overwhelmed by the beauty of my surroundings. The pouring rain, the trees bending under the wind, the smells of fresh moisture, and even my daughter covered in mud. It was like viewing a movie in 3D for the first time, everything came alive to my senses.

rain

I lifted my camera and began snapping pictures, thankful for the marvelous beauty God was showering despite my reluctant obedience.

puddles

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Samantha, discovering her dirty feet, decided two hops was enough and wanted a shower.

muddy flip flops

I took that time to catalogue the beautiful treasures God had given me through my camera lens. If I hadn’t obeyed the Spirit’s prompting, I would have missed out on a glorious experience; an opportunity for reflection, praise, worship and teaching my daughter that she can trust me to follow through on my promises.

fresh pathway

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:11-12

I learned a valuable lesson this morning. I need to slow down and take time to reflect on the treasures around me:

birds nesting,

birds nesting

flowers resting,

flowers resting

trees growing,

trees growing

and children playing.

muddy Samantha

There’s more to my world then finishing the next project, making the next phone call, or cooking another meal. I need to remember God’s faithfulness and love and delight in his handiwork and maybe the day won’t seem so hectic after all. Sometimes I just need to throw that “list” in the wind and dance in the rain.

“It is good to praise the Lord.” Psalm 92:1

pink flowers