When a toddler and baby live in your home, peacefully waking on your own is a rare, but glorious treat, not to be taken for granted. As I sat up in bed, taking the hot coffee fixed just the way I like it, I thanked God for answering the prayers of one exhausted mama.
I recalled the nights prior – the stumbling down the hallway in the dark, skipping the stair that creaks so as not to scare the toddler, picking the baby up from the crib to nurse for the fourth time that night. Waking up rested was long forgotten, a distant memory. Yet today, the Lord saw fit to answer a desperate plea for rest. What grace!
But the next night, it was back to the same old thing. A toddler needing a drink of water and an extra potty trip as a result. Monsters behind the rocking chair and pallets drawn up beside Daddy’s bed. A baby nursing every two hours and a snow plow barreling through the streets with lights flashing casting eery shadows across the room. Dreamland disappeared into the mist and the nightly grind screeched into its place.
The next morning I needed toothpicks to keep my eyes pried open, a coffee IV hooked to my arm, and a nap, which would never come. I just knew it. Why would it? Thinking back to the day before, to the blessed, peaceful waking, I shook my fist at the Creator. I got mad at God.
Why did you do this to me, God? Why did you have to make the kids go crazy again? Why can’t I get two nights of sleep instead of one? I mean really. YOU are the CONTROLLER of the UNIVERSE. You didn’t have to steal my sleep, a gift you gave mind you, again. Did you? No. You didn’t. But you did. How could you do this to me?
Because I got one good night’s sleep, I now claimed rights. I wanted sleep. God gave me one night so I deserved to have it again. The snare of entitlement reared its ugly head. It’s not just a problem for our teens and children. The snare of entitlement runs deep within all of us. We need truth to save us.
5 Ways to Combat Entitlement
1. Practice gratitude. When we are grateful, when we bow our knees before our Heavenly Father, there is no room for entitlement or a demanding spirit. Practicing gratitude turns our hearts toward Jesus and away from ourselves. We need a Savior and we have one. Our greatest need has been met!
2. Count others more significant than yourself. When I get caught up in myself and my own desires, I am a gnarly rat to be around. But when I seek to serve others and lay down my life for the good of someone else, joy always follows.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~Philippians 2:3-4
No it’s not easy wiping little bottoms on little to no sleep. Yet as I seek to live for Jesus by the strength He provides, I radiate the humility of Christ. This leaves no room for the entitlement mentality and plenty of room for God’s glory to shine through.
3. Meditate on Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus was God, yet He never demanded that others treat Him with due respect. He never claimed His rights. He humbled Himself to the point of death, death on a cross (Philippians 2: 8). My perceived rights pale in comparison. Meditation upon the Gospel changes everything.
4. Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself. A complaining heart always leads to hopelessness and apathy. When I’m caught in the snare of entitlement, I have to be intentional to talk to myself instead of simply listening. I have to take action. I have to take every thought captive. I have to speak truth, truth like the following:
We are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. ~2 Chronicles 20:12
5. Choose to praise Him. We are called to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). It’s easy to praise God in the easy times, but the true test comes when things are difficult. Why do we keep rising from our knees?
If there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~Philippians 4:8
The snare of entitlement runs deep. We can grow weary under the refining fire of sanctification. The chisel hurts. As long as I look in the mirror and see me instead of Christ, I want God to keep chiseling. I want to lay down my control, my desires, my everything and pick up His desires, His everything. I don’t want to simply say it with my mouth, but I want to live it in my life, believe it in my heart.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9