“I don’t deserve to take care of myself. So I’ll just be a martyr mom and take care of everyone else and eventually gain 100 pounds and run my adrenals into the ground.”
“I don’t deserve to have fun. I can’t take a break unless the house is clean and the laundry is caught up and the school books are put away. I can’t spend money on myself so I better just stay home.”
“I don’t deserve someone taking care of me. My husband offered to bring me coffee but I said no, I’d get it later. My son offered to buy my lunch but I turned him down and paid for my own–and his.”
Do you see a pattern here? Whenever we focus on “I don’t deserve” (whether we consciously think it or not), the emphasis is on the word “I.”
When we feel bad about ourselves, we’re making ourselves the center of attention.
It may feel humble to think that we don’t deserve something, but it’s actually self-centered.
A few months ago I earned a trip to the Plexus Leader’s Retreat in Orlando, Florida. It was a dream-come-true kind of trip, staying at a fancy hotel and going to Disney World with my husband. A trip I couldn’t have imagined during all the years of being home with a very large family, homeschooling and stretching the budget thin. As the time drew near for the trip, I started having all these feelings that I didn’t deserve to go. After a few days I realized I wasn’t even enjoying the anticipation of the trip because I was allowing my self-focus to overshadow the joy.
Feeling like we don’t deserve something shows that we are equating our performance with our self worth. We feel worthy of love and reward only when we’ve performed well, and we can never perform well enough to feel worthy for very long. But that’s not how God sees us, and most of the time it’s not how our loved ones see us, either.
We start by believing the lie that we are what we do or who others say we are, instead of the truth that we are who God says we are.
We water and fertilize the lie by thinking it and speaking it. Then it grows and spreads and becomes a part of our self image: “I don’t deserve….” And that lie poisons the good that comes into our lives as we harden our hearts to the truth.
What’s the antidote? The love of God. The truth of God’s word and thinking His thoughts about ourselves. Retraining our thoughts. Always staying in gratitude.
Gratitude and appreciation are good for our brain and body. They are life-giving thoughts and words that release love. Gratitude gets us beyond ourselves and away from fear and lack and not deserving.
The next time you catch yourself starting a thought with “I feel like I don’t deserve ____” stay aware of that self-focus on a lie. Consciously choose gratitude and chances are, you’ll feel a physical difference. Make an “I’m so grateful for” list on paper. That’s a great way to begin and end your day. Open your heart to receiving God’s good gifts by taking the focus off yourself and putting it on gratitude.