Life Would Be Wonderful…If It Weren’t For The Imaginary Hardships

The following is a version of my column which appears in San Clemente Presbyterian’s NEWSBREAK magazine. Editors are welcome to use it as a FREE REPRINT.

Sometimes I don’t need a mirror to see my own reflection. My five-year-old son Joseph is a perfectly capable alternative.

Lately, when my answer to one of his requests is “no” (although I am often guilty of indulging my children), Joseph has begun whining, “You NEVER let me _____!” (Fill in blank with any number of things we DO let him do, but just not that moment.)

I’ve talked with him about it, and I believe he now understands that “not now” does not mean “never,” but in truth, he sees a bigger problem. Joseph perceives himself a victim; what he desires is withheld from him and therefore he is in pain.  I would like to guide him to realize that he’s not suffering imaginary hardships—in fact, his life is pretty sweet!

But is this God’s view of us? Is our Father watching over His children whining about our limitations, descrying ourselves as victims of wrongdoing or lacking in His abundance?

Why do we always feel like we’re getting the short end of the stick?

In many ways, we impose our own imaginary hardships on ourselves. We think we can’t do something because we don’t have the resources, talent, courage, opportunity… gifts God happens to have in abundance.

We must ask ourselves: What am I not letting myself do?

A friend of mine who is the mother of three advised me to practice using positive language with Joseph instead of dead-ending his hopes with the word no. “It makes a world of difference,” she assured me.

True enough. Sometimes the answer to my prayer is “Not now” or “It won’t happen how you imagine it.” But God never says “Never.” It will require repeated assurance to help my child accept that mom and dad are lovingly parenting with his best interests in mind–but how many of us trust our Lord to look out for ours?

We can’t use God’s gifts boldly until we’ve received them. We haven’t received them if we perceive ourselves lacking. My husband and I are responsible for raising a confident child who counts at least one blessing each day, encouraging gratitude for all he–we–have been given. If we know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts if we ask him! (Matthew 7:11Luke 11:13)

I’m going to demonstrate letting go of expectations, in an effort to better appreciate when good gifts appear. Blessings don’t always look like we think they should—until we learn to recognize them.

Other NewsBreak Columns:

Closing The Gap Of Longing For Closeness

The Gifts Of Loaves And Fishes

Moving From Worry To Wonder

NewsBreak Column: Losing The Weight Of The Past