on the sense of entitlement

Posted: August 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

We talk a lot about people’s sense of entitlement in this culture.  Some notice it in the rich.  Some notice it in the poor.  Some notice it in the young.  Some notice it in the old.  Some notice it in citizens of the USA.  Some notice it in undocumented immigrants.  I’ve got a Very Bitchy Blog in me that will be written one day, about the ways I notice it in people whose hands are on a steering wheel and feet are on gas pedals and brakes, but I keep putting it off because it will be 100% snark unless something big in me changes before I type it out…and snark is not really a God-honoring or others-honoring language, no matter how fun I might have engaging in it.

Entitlement is that feeling or assumption that goes something like, “Of COURSE I get that.  I DESERVE it.  It is MY RIGHT.” And it generally is accompanied by a lack of the expression of gratitude, or even the passing thought of thankfulness.  If I am lacking something to which I feel entitled, I probably won’t seek it with humbleness.  I will probably demand it and run over people to gain access to it, though I’m sure you’d never be such a terrible person as that.  🙂

The thing is, it can be very hard to recognize, measure, or acknowledge one’s OWN sense of entitlement.  We generally don’t FEEL like we are being jerks or presuming or abusing grace or being ungrateful.  We just think “this is the way it is supposed to be.” 

The easy part?  Seeing a sense of entitlement in OTHERS. 

Or:  seeing a sense of entitlement in the OLD me, if I am willing to live a self-aware life and continually seek to grow and learn in the Lord. 

Being newly married has really shown me that, big time.  The old me and the new me…they are from two different planets.

18-year-old me took her marriage as the natural progression of life and as her right.  She was sure of her role, even though she had it almost all wrong.  She was quick to notice the fault of the other, but not so much of herself.  She was quick to demand her way, and quick to choose to be offended when her way wasn’t the first option chosen.  Her agenda was about what SHE wanted.  It was about being what she wanted to be.  It was about creating her world as she desired it to be.  It was about “getting her needs met.”  It contained a lot of “shoulds” and a lot of opinions about the right way to do things. 

Divorce and more than a decade of singleness beat a lot of that out of me, and God in His great grace and mercy came along and peeled layer after layer away while I was living that out.  He did that whole “bringing beauty from ashes” thing that is His forte.  He held me while I came to understand that my concept of “my rights” was a whole imaginary, invented, unhelpful, unhealthy way to live. 

47-year-old me takes her marriage as a gift too great to measure.  I have cried I think every day since my wedding (well, before that, but let’s focus on the married part) just from amazement and gratitude.  I keep asking, “Why should I get a gift like this?”  I keep asking my husband if he is really real, and not just a fantastic dream.  The words THANK YOU just keep tumbling out of my mouth, to both Gary and God.  I know what I have is not a right.  I spent too many years facing the possibility that maybe I was chosen for a life of singleness to ever think of marriage as a right again. 

I am not that sure girl.  I am not sure of my role.  I tell God all the time that I don’t know how to be a good wife, so He will have to do that in me.  Gary doesn’t agree with my assessment of what I know.  I’m not saying I’m terrible.  I’m saying that the deadly certainty that used to make me into a jerk – it’s GONE.  I will proceed with the certainty that I am NOT certain, and that I need to be humble and teachable as I go forward.

I don’t need my way, or to be right, or to be offended when things alter from my plan.  My agenda is not about what I want, or about what I want to be, and I know for sure I don’t get to create my world.  “Getting my needs met” is not on the priority list – that’s not mine to fill, it is God’s.  What I seek is harmony, an opportunity to serve my husband and encourage him.  I now understand that if he sees or does things differently than I do or would, that is not a personal attack on me.  It’s just a different perspective and an opportunity for us to draw together, communicate, negotiate, and grow our bond.  There are very few “shoulds” from my mouth or even in my mind now, and when I encounter them, I kind of back up and make the sign of the cross at them.  🙂  It’s better to just flee from some things, and the “shoulding” of a loved one or even of myself is on that list. 

My old sense of entitlement made me a pretty rotten wife and not too wonderful a family member either.  The freedom and healing that come with giving up the notion of “my rights” and seeing the blessings as just that – BLESSINGS – is one of the better gifts of having come this far.  I’ll say it again – never going backward.  47 rocks.  Whatever is next:  bring it on! 

  1. Me says:

    Ahhhh, Karen. You spoke directly to me…..you pierced my heart…….you called me out…….I feel entitled WAAAAY too much.

    Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

  2. Pam Spangler says:

    Thanks again for always going to places I’m struggling with. Blessings Karen!

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