“…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown You, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?'” Proverbs 30:8-9
I find joy in giving my kids little gifts for no reason. It’s fun to hide things in their lunch boxes, put sugary treats in their Valentines envelopes, etc. I love to see their faces light up with joy, and feel their warm hugs of gratitude. It creates a little bit of magic, and moments that sparkle. That is, until they expect it…
There was a day last week where I spaced and didn’t put anything in their Valentine envelopes. Trust me, there was no sparkle that day. Instead, there was a storm: dark clouds hanging over my kids as they pouted, and thunder booming out of me as I ranted about how they shouldn’t always expect more.
What infuriated me the most was they thought I owed them a treat for that day. Oh my! When I stumbled upon that revelation, the storm ratcheted up to a level five hurricane. There was nowhere they could take cover to be safe from the high winds of my anger. Talk about a sweet idea of little Valentine gifts going oft awry.
Now that the storm has passed, and the sun is out, I can see that part of my anger was directed at myself. I was disappointed that I haven’t successfully gotten the greedy vs. grateful lesson ingrained in my kids yet. Every time I think I have, and feel as if I can coast, something like this happens, and I feel like a failure.
Or the pendulum swings the other way. I get all self-righteous and swear I’m never going above and beyond for my kids again. If doing so creates greedy and spoiled kids, I’m done. It’s safe to say, neither approach is the right one.
In this Scripture passage, Agur is asking God to give him neither poverty nor riches. He knows that if God is too good to him, he’ll go off on his merry way, never looking back. He knows that when life gets too easy, it’s easy to pretend we don’t need God.
I fall into this trap all the time. When everyone in my family is healthy, our problems are being solved, and we’re all happy, I start thinking we’ve arrived: that life is supposed to be this good and I can coast. By default, I become less invested in my prayer time because I naively think I need it less. That slippery slop leads me to not only being less invested in my prayer time, but to spend less time in prayer all together. That is until the train goes off the tracks. Then I’m on my knees in my heart praying and begging God for help, acting as if He owes it to me to get me back to that good place again.
The reality is, God doesn’t owe us a life on Easy Street. Once Adam and Eve ate that apple, the life where everything is good and it all sparkles doesn’t exist on this side of Heaven; it exists on the other side. I have no right to expect God to pave my path in gold, literally or figuratively.
But God will provide my “daily bread” because He is my loving Father and does want to meet my needs. When I let go of the idea that God owes me anything for tomorrow, and instead put complete trust in the fact that He will provide for me today, I find that I have what I need for the day. I have the patience to handle the difficult moments with my kids. I have the strength to handle any bad news that comes my way. I have the courage to try a new path when the old one isn’t working anymore.
Likewise, I want my kids to know and trust the fact that I will always take care of them, meeting their true needs, no matter what it takes. I would also like to continue giving them little treats and surprises whenever the mood hits me, but not at the risk of spoiling them and feeding their greed. I know them best. I need to judge when to give little gifts, and when to pull back, for their own good. Moreover, I need to role model what it looks like to live without believing the deception that I am owed anything. Instead, I want them to see me doing the best I can with what the day holds, and then being extremely grateful if and when God gifts me with a wonderful surprise.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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