At this time of year, the word, 'Luck' is thrown around quite a bit. The Luck of the Irish is all fine and dandy, so says my red hair, freckles, and constant urge to dance to lilting tunes, but in general I have come to believe that word has lost its original meaning and is now wholly misused by the general populace. Just in the last week I had different people in different settings tell me I was lucky to have well behaved children, a wonderful husband, a job I can do from home, a home on the sunny side of the street, and clean house. I don't mean to be picky, but the truth is that only one of those things can really be attributed to luck.
So, here we go. Luck is when something pleasant happens to you that you did not expect. Luck is finding a quarter on the ground. Luck is being blessed with something that you neither sought nor worked for. Luck is unknowingly purchasing a home that faces the South so the sun melts away all the snow and ice from the sidewalk in the winter. That is luck. All of those other things that people seem to think just popped into my life unawares-- not so much. Those things are worked for. Those things are sought for. Those things are expected by me in my life because those things are some of my biggest priorities in life and they take ALL of my time and attention to have and enjoy.
Another word that seems to get thrown around a little too loosely is, 'Deserve'. Everyone seems to think that they deserve something more than they are getting, or they use that term deserve to justify purchasing something, eating something, or taking advantage of something or someone when they know they shouldn't. "I deserve this pie because I am having a bad day." "I deserve these new heels that I can't afford because I worked really hard today and I like to drown my sorrows with credit card debt." "I deserve to swear at the pizza delivery guy because he got my order wrong and I was having a fight with my husband before he got here." Dear friends- stop this now. You do not deserve any of those things, at least not for those reasons.
To deserve something is to fulfill your end of a contractual agreement for a pre-specified payment. I deserve to be paid for the work I do. I work dang hard, and I work all of the time. I literally cannot remember the last time I felt bored. I have a gagillion things that need to get done every day, and in those rare spare moments in between mothering tasks instead of sitting back, eating a chocolate, and watching TV I work. I write. I force my head and my fingers into overdrive so that I can help get my family get out of debt and enjoy some extra pleasures that we would not be able to afford otherwise.
I deserve to enjoy the blessings of the temple because I keep my end of the covenants I make there. It is not always easy, and I won't pretend to be perfect. That would be silly. I am flawed through and through, but I like to think that I am less flawed now than I was ten years ago, and I hope to be able to make even more improvements and to add even more lines and precepts in the next ten years.
I deserve to have a gun in my home as long as I follow the laws and ordinances that pertain to that possession. Those are the kinds of things that I am truly entitled to. Anything else is either a manipulation or a blessing.
I do not think I deserve to have amazing friends in my life, but good heavens, I am grateful for them. I do not deserve to have four amazingly brilliant children, but I cannot imagine living without them. I do not deserve a night out with my favorite guy every week, but my life sure is better when I can work things out to get that. I do not deserve a closet full of clothes or a pantry, fridge, basement, and freezer full of food aside from the fact that Ross and I did work our tails off (seriously, you can check-- our tails are hardly noticeable anymore!) to earn the money to purchase those things. I am incredibly grateful, however, to know that we are prepared with those necessities should tragedy strike and we find ourselves in a jam.
I have been struggling lately with some inner demons, and some day I am going to ask Heavenly Father just why he felt it necessary to send certain trials my way at certain times in my life because some of these things just don't quite make sense to my logical and very flawed, human mind. That being said, I think that if I truly remember these two terms and what they really entail, they can help me to let go of some of the anguish and bitterness I have been hoarding. It sure is hard to enjoy all those blessings when you feel owed.
The things I have that really matter in my life did not come by luck. They came by incredibly hard work and dedication, and they came through the grace of a Father in Heaven who knows what I need and ALWAYS gives me what I deserve according to my faithfulness, and often blesses me far beyond that level of what I deserve.
Love is better than luck.
Gratitude is better than entitlement.