When my son was in Kindergarten, I gushed about two parakeets my family owned when I was a child. I pulled from my memory to describe their beautiful colors, their ability to repeat several words and their willingness to perch on my finger. I painted such an amazing picture of my childhood birds that my son desperately wanted to get his own winged pets.
My son decided to save up his allowance, so he could buy two birds, a cage, food and bird toys. It took him about a year and a half to earn the money, but he did it! He beamed with pride and excitement when carried his little cage, housing his two bright pet birds, into our home. I was so thrilled that he would experience the same joy I remembered from raising birds as a girl.
About two weeks later, the reality of how much work birds require dawned on me. Birds have to be fed and watered constantly and their cage has to be cleaned every week. They are fun pets, but they create a mess of seeds, feathers and waste all around them. Somehow, the work involved with caring for the birds slipped my memory, and I realized very quickly that the burden of owning birds was a lot for my seven-year-old son.
I talked to my older sister about our childhood birds, and she laughed! She said that we never owned them. We had only bird-watched them for a few weeks. No wonder I had such a one-sided view of caring for them. I had only experienced the blessing of birds without the burden of the responsibility.
Sometimes God protects us from diving head first into our one-sided, idealized viewpoints. With every blessing comes a greater amount of responsibility, and we must ensure that our capacity can handle the stretching of our borders. Many times we look at people who have what we want, but we don’t fully understand the sacrifices they are making in the background of their lives. Once we experience the full weight of the responsibility, our romanticized opinions may lose their luster.
God has designed each of us so differently, and our abilities are tailored to the dreams and desires He has placed in our hearts. When we find ourselves desiring another person’s blessings, we need to decide if the burden of those blessings fits into the uniqueness of our personalities. Has God given us the grace for the grind? Plus, we have to be honest with ourselves about our capacity. If we complain about the borders of our responsibilities now, how could we handle those borders expanding?
Humility is best cure for these one-sides, idealized viewpoints. As we humble ourselves, we gain an adequate understanding of our strengths and weaknesses and a truer perception of our intentions. We may lose our interest in something if we knew the work involved outweighed the satisfaction gained. Or we may discover that we have been motivated by self-glory instead of God’s glory. We might actually find ourselves thankful that God has given the blessing and burden to someone else, so we can be free to turn our attention to the blessings and burdens God has designed specifically for our lives and purpose.
“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12.3 NLT).