anger, Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, discontent, frustration, God, gratitude, ingratitude, Jesus, malcontent, My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, New Testament, Old Testament, parents, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, thankfulness
Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Parental Glideance”
Rainbow Dash may have had at least something of a point with her reaction in this episode. It’s true that her parents were being a little overbearing, even if they had the best intentions. There does come a point where cheering and support end up not only overdone but also a bit of an embarrassment, and it was clear that her parents had crossed that line. There’s no need to herald the accomplishments of your child for every little act they do, after all.
That being said, she handled it inappropriately. She could have been far calmer and more rational about how she told them that their attempts at support, however well-meant, were drawing unwanted attention and were, honestly, embarrassing themselves as much as her. Blowing up at them was too much. But aside from that, Scootaloo did make a good point. As annoyed as she might have been with parents who were over-supportive, she at least had parents that were supportive to begin with as opposed to parents who didn’t even care. Not to mention that Rainbow Dash does suffer from a bit of an inferiority complex. The fact her parents were always there to be happy for her no matter how she did led her to never get so bogged down in her failures that she didn’t keep trying harder. She failed to appreciate that; focusing all of her emotion and anger instead on what she didn’t like and let that distort her view of her parents as a whole.
One of the big problems with the human psyche as we go about in day to day life, as I have said in early devotionals, is that no matter how good we have things going for us we tend to fixate only on the aspect of something we don’t like. I’m more well off than most of the people in the world, with a means to support myself, savings, my health, and no debt. The sort of lifestyle a lot of people wish they would have. Yet there are times, like when it’s raining three days in a row or I hit every stop light when I’m already running a bit late to work, that I’ll get so ungrateful I’ll angrily swear and yell “why does this have to happen to me?”. I’ll go off on an enraged rant about some minor and temporary inconvenience right in the comfort of my own home in front of my computer and home from my job…literally in the midst of all of my blessings. I’ll get sour about not being able to go somewhere I had planned this weekend when I’m surrounded by “favors” I’ve done myself on countless other weekends. Most of all, I’ll sometimes focus on a bad habit or character trait that annoys me about people I love, and it will ruin times we spend together or events we attend together even though, when alone, I’ll constantly lament that I don’t spend as much time with them as I should.
Even when I do suffer a bit of genuine misfortune I tend to lose sight of the big picture. Like when my car battery got damaged and ended up being a special battery that needed not only an expensive model but also a professional to replace, I didn’t focus on the fact that I could easily afford it, that I had access to alternatives thanks to my relatives, or even the nice bonus that this all happened on a weekend so I didn’t have to worry about work. No, I instead got upset that it had happened at all and that I couldn’t call anyone to tow it until the next day or do it myself. I let it ruin everything else for that night even though I hadn’t even planned on going anywhere other than the nearby convenience store.
I’ll go ahead and say I’m one of the worst offenders for ingratitude because I always focus on certain things and ignore all others. Yet I’ve run into many other individuals before who had much to be thankful for (sometimes more than they deserved…) and yet they wallowed in continuous discontent and anger about the things they didn’t have that they felt were denied them. And I’ve known many more who lose their temper about their friends and family before at things they’ve done and let those carry over into full-blown fights or lingering discontent.
This is one of my worst flaws and one I need to focus more on resolving, because an attitude of ingratitude not only makes me a malcontent, a grouch, and not appreciate what I have–it can be downright sinful.
One would argue if they were one of the ancient Israelites in the Books of Exodus and Numbers that they would have had plenty to be happy about. They had been delivered from Egypt by the Hand of God himself, were promised a land to build a nation of their own, defended from enemies on every side, and were given food and water throughout their long journey through what could only be described as miracles. Yet all they constantly focused on was how they were having to travel through the desert such a long way, and, to their own detriment, they very often gave voice to their loud complaints. It eventually led to all of the adults of the original Exodus perishing in the desert without setting foot on the Promised Land, because of fixating so much on their remaining problems they didn’t see what they had spread before them. They ended up losing the blessing of God; as a warning to all of us who might similarly throw something of value away over one aspect we dislike about it.
Likewise, King Solomon possessed wealth and wisdom beyond that of any king who had ever lived…and yet it wasn’t enough for him. He constantly looked for new wives to sate his desires, and in finding new ones he eventually found ones that persuaded him to turn to idolatrous worship and away from God–the very one who gave him all of his wealth and wisdom to begin with. As a result, the unified Kingdom of Israel didn’t last any longer than him. (1 Kings 11:1-13)
In less extreme examples that hit closer to home, we all know (or maybe we are) people who constantly go around lamenting things they don’t have. Rarely can you count on these people to give of their time or talents to a good cause, let alone the ministry of the Gospel. Rarely do they feel in a good attitude to help anyone else out who’s in need or in trouble. Often they can’t be bothered to witness in any capacity. And, as illustrated in this episode, whenever they meet with a mild misfortune they overreact, possibly just to a situation but in worse cases toward well-meaning individuals who didn’t realize any better. At that point, not only are they not willing to do any part to minister the Gospel, but they’re actively sinning by going around in a sour mood and taking it out on others.
As a suggested prayer for today, and something to help tie this together, I’d like to quote a rather poignant poem (by unknown, unfortunately; many people have claimed to be the author):
“Today upon a bus I saw a lovely maiden with golden hair;
I envied her—so beautiful, and how, I wished I were so fair;
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, she wore a smile.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two feet –the world is mine.
And when I stopped to buy some sweets, the lad who served me had such charm;
he seemed to radiate good cheer, his manner was so kind and warm;
I said, “it’s nice to deal with you, such courtesy I seldom find;”
He turned and said, “Oh, thank you sir.” And then I saw that he was blind.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two eyes, the world is mine.
Then when walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue;
He stood and watched the others play, it seemed he knew not what to do;
I stopped a moment, then I said, “Why don’t you join the others, dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, I realized –he could not hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two ears, the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I’d go,
with eyes to see the sunsets glow,
with ears to hear what I would know,
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.”