“You deserve it.”
It’s thrown around in casual conversations and in response to status updates. Had a tough day at work? “You deserve a vacation.” Have the kids been especially challenging today? “You deserve some time to yourself.” Did the winter drag on longer than usual? “We deserve warmer temperatures.”
It seems like an innocent enough combination of words, doesn't it? But it's often said within the context of first-world, middle- and upper-class lifestyle. When we, as Christians, move
outside that comfy context, this phrase is exposed for what it really is: selfish.
What Do I Deserve?
My perspective on this phrase began changing because of a status update I posted a few months ago. I shared a simple graphic before Valentine’s Day that said, “It takes 32 gallons of water to grow a dozen roses. That’s enough water to sustain one person for a whole week.” The point was that in a world where 783 million people don’t have access to clean water, it seems wasteful to use that water on a plant that is grown only to wither and die shortly after purchase. But one friend saw it completely differently. She said she’d save water so I could have roses because I “deserved” it.
There were those three simple words. She said it innocently enough, but I couldn’t take the phrase at face value. I couldn’t help but wonder, If I deserve those flowers, what do people without access to clean water deserve? Don’t they deserve at least a basic human necessity? My mind didn’t stop there.
I thought back to times someone said I “deserved” a night out after a difficult day with the kids. Difficult questions swirled through my mind. How could this be something I “deserved” when there are single, working moms who haven’t had a break for longer than they can remember? I have a supportive husband, family, and friends who I can turn to on those difficult days, but there are mothers out there who have no one. There are mothers who not
only don’t have a break, they don’t have proper food and nutrition for themselves or their children. There are mothers who don’t even have a roof over their heads! Don’t they deserve a home more than I deserve a few hours away from the house or some flowers that only exist for a few moments of my viewing pleasure?
These questions were deeply convicting. The truth is, there are times when I do feel I “deserve” something. Sometimes it’s alone time or a girls’ night out. Sometimes it’s a dessert after a long workout or a vacation to get away. While these may reflect healthy desires for replenishment or friendship, there was something else there too. As I dug deeper into what I felt I deserved, I noticed something: me. Me, me, me.