You Deserve? How so?

“When someone uses the word ‘deserve’, I cringe. Wonder why,”  I raised voice enough to let it waft through the open door of our Rector’s office.  I wanted to tap the wisdom of a man I respected and loved.

Rev. Kim was finishing prepatory work for one of the Committees of the Anglican Church of Canada. He had a meeting in Toronto; a trip that usually taxed him in a variety of ways.

I was helping in the Parish office where there was seldom time alone with Kim.  Opportunities to discuss life with IMG_0888him were irresistible.

“Ah, yes…” he said, followed by his chuckle; a guarantee there was more to come.

As a child, Kim was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.  However, in his 50s, except for his gait which he supported with an interesting “staff” and some loss in the use of his left hand, there was no indication that the disease affected this wise and brilliant man.

A Canadian prairie lad, Kim attended the University of Cambridge where he studied Theology, majoring in History.   Likely because of his love of history, he could bring interpretation into his sermons with a clarity that needed to be followed by 5 minutes of silence.  I didn’t feel like standing up immediately to belt out a joyous offertory hymn.  I wanted to sit and meditate with the Christ energy brought through the sermon.

Instead, I wrapped his message as if it was a hot ember.  I folded it into my memory’s damp moss and carried it into the coming week.  Life presented the perfect kindling for igniting the ember into a blaze.

Yes, I provided most of the ‘air’ needed to raise the blaze.

“Who is claiming the deserving?  You or the other guy?” Kim said.

“Either.  Doesn’t matter if people claim they deserve something or say I deserve something.  It all clangs like a cracked bell.”  I walked to his office door to check his expression.  “I’m beginning to wonder if it’s me!  Am I suffering from feeling “undeserving”?”

Kim said, “When people claim to deserve something, it usually means they need something else. The cry for ‘deserve’ is often a cry for love.”  

We were interrupted.  However, he’d given me an ember.

Carrying Embers to Home's Hearth

Carrying Embers to Home’s Hearth

Two days ago, I had the opportunity to blow on the ember.  It took blaze over Face Book when the wife of an Anglican Priest in England cleverly set up an invitation: “Good people deserve good things.  Bad people deserve bad things. Discuss.”

Her thread became full of great commentary and I appreciated the different points of view.  I welcomed signs of critical thinking as well as her subtle reminder of the upcoming Easter season.

The word still doesn’t sit well when I hear it.  At this point of my life, the air I blow on this ember is this:  We don’t have to focus on “deserve” when we know we are loved and accepted just as we are. Life’s challenges come and go – it’s what life is for.

It’s not about deciding whether or not it’s deserved, it’s about how we deal with it.

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18 thoughts on “You Deserve? How so?

  1. I agree about the word “Deserve.” What makes people feel entitled? I never understood that.

    We “deserve” NOTHING.

    And perhaps, just perhaps, we will be offered SOMETHING!)) xxx

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Totsy Mae. I think differently, obviously, and will add comments with no intent of changing your, or anyone’s, mind.

      “Deserving” is judgmental. A person telling me I deserve something has just judged me profoundly. A simple compliment would be enough.

      Children needn’t “deserve” to be brought up with love. To me it’s a ‘given’ that children be loved.

      People can be given a break without being judged. It’s entirely possible to “hate the sin and love the sinner”. In another vein, I don’t judge street people before serving food to each of them in a soup kitchen.

      If someone is not safe for me to be around, I’ll discern danger (hopefully) and ‘deserve’ would have nothing to do with the decision of how to protect myself. This applies to harm in any way – emotionally, physically or mentally.

      I don’t have to deserve to live in a free country. I do… and I want to uphold the responsibility that goes with that privilege. Our two countries are two of the biggest donors to third world countries. I’ve never heard the word “deserve” used in our giving and outreach.

      If I had to sit on a jury, I’d think in terms of consequences rather than question whether or not they were deserving.

      I could go on, but in deference to my earlier statement, any more considerations risk the appearance of being a sales pitch.

    • Lots of good discoveries, Jamie, both academically and personally. In our “Thinking” course, we’re just heading into the section about Myths. Of course there’s a very scientific explanation for all things so I’ll enjoy practicing more critical thinking.

  2. It might be interesting to ask how people interpret the word “deserve.” Human language depends so much on our individual perspectives. I have a problem with an entitlement mentality. On the other hand, I feel a personal responsibility to help those in need as I am able, within my means. I guess in an ideal world each one of us would be sensitive to those needs that Rev. Kim alludes to, but this isn’t an ideal world. You’ve lit a bit of an ember–something to ponder but, I suspect, our ability to discern is limited. That course you’re taking is quite Tantalizing. Have fun with the Myth section!

    • I find I judge and justify when I’m not with Love. I’ll wonder if a street person is a con. It’s a relief when I remember I don’t need to do that – I can give or not give as I am moved. Thank goodness I don’t have to determine “deservedness” – aha, a new word! I’d be there all day. :D

  3. “Deserve” has the implication of “rights” – “rights” more often than not lead to “demands” – refusal of those demands creates further judgement and hostility — limiting avenues of love and nurturing … blocking inner peace, joy, acceptance and contentment. You produced an arena with an extra large ration of “food for thought”, Amy.

  4. I’ll join you in the cringing deal. Happens for me, too. “Entitlement”, “rights”, “fair”…life happens to us all. I hope I handle it with a bit of dignity and grace. I DO reserve the “right” to whine though!! (Cuz I can AND it’s good for a cuppa French pressed coffee from Mr. Gullible! LOL!!)

    • You can reserve like mad, Mel! Speaking of whining: I ran into a male friend one day and since we were both going to attend the same meeting a little later, he asked me to join him for dinner. At the restaurant, he had me in stitches over his litany of life experiences. So when we walked into the meeting, someone said, “Aha! Is this a budding new love affair?”

      “No”, I said. “George just invited me to “wine and dine” so he whined and I dined.”

      Delicious hilarity!

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