In my morning devotional this past week, Sarah Young in her book, Jesus Always, stated that thankfulness is the best antidote to a sense of entitlement–the poisonous attitude that ‘the world owes me.’ I have spent time this week thinking about this concept and realize that I have felt entitled about many things in my life, but spent some time looking specifically at my health. My question has never been why me but as I dig deeper I do wonder why during my life I have had such health challenges.
The Principle and Foundation (P & F) helps people detach from those things to which we believe we are entitled to such as a long life instead of short, health instead of sickness, and honour rather than dishonour. The Examen helps us review our day with gratitude and realize that we are not owed anything. We are given a bounty of gifts and blessings each day if we have but eyes to see and ears to hear.
Throughout my life I have had several mysterious diseases that have not been easily resolved. Doctors have struggled to find a source, a diagnosis, treatment, and a cure. I could be bitter about this but I have chosen not to be. I have moved through each of them, beginning at age 20, when I was not sure if an innovative surgery would allow me to walk again. I learned early in life that not everything was fair and I had to be open to whatever would befall me. The Spiritual Exercises showed me how to do this with more grace and gratitude.
We are not entitled to much of anything in this life, not even happiness. We are proud people, expecting so much. We ask for long life, good health, and honour instead of being grateful for what we have. There are days on this adventure when I have forgotten to be thankful. Those days I feel overwhelmed until I do the Examen to remind myself of the many blessings that I have. I cannot speak for you, but I know those moments when that poisonous attitude silently slinks into me, I need to turn to gratitude to extract my ego and sense of entitlement from the process. I am alive today because I live in the First World and have access to some of the best medical care in the world. Most people in the South would not still be alive in my situation. They would have died three years ago. Sometimes, even when we do not comprehend everything, all we can do is stand in humility with open hands before our Maker and stay thank you for it all.
What sense of entitlement do you have?
What do you need to give thanks for?
Maker-of-Me, you know every hair on my head, every thought buzzing through my brain, each desire I have, and each fear I cling to. You desire more for me than I can ask or imagine. You ask me to come before you with a heart full of trust, open hands, and no attachments. I place my ego and sense of entitlement at the foot of your cross. Fill me with gratitude instead. Amen.