What Is Easily Obtained Is Undervalued

2023 was a dramatic year for me. It began with the death of my father on January 7th, and was followed shortly afterwards with the loss of my pregnancy in the second trimester. These events cast a deep dark shadow over the first half of the year.

But over the summer I reunited with my (now ex) fiancé after 16 years apart, bought a homestead, and became Mom to six cute dogs, all of which marked a significant change in my life’s trajectory.

Central to these experiences and achievements was the role of faith and action. I’ve come to understand that divine guidance often requires our active participation. The Lord may reveal the path and present opportunities, but it is up to us to utilise our innate talents and abilities to realise these possibilities.

It took a long time to learn the Lord often gives you what you ask for, but He will rarely just hand it to you. He presents the path, He puts what you want out in front of you, but He requires you to use your God Given gifts and talents to bring it to life.

There’s a measure of effort required. There’s a measure of work required.

The Lord knows that you won’t appreciate it if you don’t work for it. If it’s just handed to you on a silver platter, will you savour it? Will you be grateful?

Or, rather, because we are all deeply flawed mortals, will our human minds, our egos, and our psychological predilections skew us towards insolence? Entitlement?

What is easily obtained will be undervalued. Unfortunately, we are rarely grateful for what we are handed. Study after study shows we don’t value things that are free. We don’t appreciate things that are just given to us. We are more likely to take care of something if we pay for it.

The same is true for your intangible achievements. If you pay with hard work, with focus, with dedication, with time, with energy, with prayer and meditation, you’re more likely to value the end result.

It’s like teaching work ethic to your child. If you give your child an allowance just because they’re your child, they won’t appreciate it. They won’t learn the value of money. They won’t learn the value of working for money. They won’t learn the sense of pride that comes with contributing to the household, to the community. They’ll think, at least subconsciously, “I exist, therefore I deserve.”

That’s not true in this realm, nor in the Lord’s. The only thing anybody deserves as a result of merely existing is love. Love is the only entitlement. Everything else must be earned to be appreciated.

While it’s easy for me to say that now, it was a hard lesson to learn. It took a long time for me to understand that when I pray, when I beg the Lord, when I ask for something, when I am beating my head against the wall trying to figure out why something isn’t happening, the way will be made clear. But achieving it…accomplishing it, that’s a result of putting my intellect, my discipline, and my talents to use and point them towards achieving that goal.

I think what most people struggle with isn’t the wanting. Sure, there’s people who say they don’t know what they want, but I’d argue they simply aren’t articulating it. Either to themselves or others.

Subconsciously we all want the same things:

We want to love and to be loved.

We want to be seen and be valued.

We want to be secure and stable.

We want to have purpose and to contribute.

We want to numb the pain we’ve been carrying.

We want to be free, intellectually, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

But what those all look like…that’s where the nuance lives. That’s where we differ. My purpose and your purpose will be different.

What looks like being seen to me isn’t necessarily the same as what being seen is to you.

Being secure to some means having unfathomable riches, while for others it means simply paying the bills without worry. Numbing pain often takes the form of materialism, as does cultivating a sense of stability.

To take our deep soul longings and distill them into actionable goals and resolutions is where the challenge lies, and that’s where many people stumble. They create goals for themselves with little thought to how others will be impacted by such a goal. Living for yourself, working for yourself and your betterment is perfectly fine, but I’d posit it’s not OK to do so at the expense of others. So often we don’t even look at how those in our lives may be impacted by our resolutions. We just charge forth.

This time of year when we’re all making goals and resolutions, be mindful to not put forth goals purely out of ego.

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