Hey again! So in my last blog, I wrote about the concept of pride – my personal experiences with it and how I thought I could go about defining it through its different forms.
In this blog, I want to set out to answer the question: what is petulance and how can it be overcome?
But before I answer this question, I want to clarify a few things about my last blog:
- Someone asked me a really good question: “do you think that those who seek to be part of the elite, who want to be famous and well-known, are prideful? Is it wrong to seek these things?” My response to that question would be: I definitely don’t believe that all famous people or rich people are prideful. I also don’t think people who seek it are prideful either because I think God can use a famous Christian to reach a huge crowd of people. But I definitely believe that it’s harder to depend on God and be humble when you have all those things. Jesus lived the simple life and I think we should follow suit. And not necessarily simple as in poor, but simple as in simply following His call in our lives. Sometimes His call leads us to fame – but even then, it’s all His doing – and sometimes, His call in our lives is to simply sit in His presence and spend time with Him.
- So –okay get ready for this – super cool story: I was doing some more thinking about pride and humility after I wrote my last blog and was like “how do I really find that modest balance of not having incredible low self-esteem, but not being super prideful either?” And my original response was “Well, Anna, just don’t think about yourself too much” (does anyone else have conversations with themselves in their head?). Which is true – if we take the focus off ourselves, then we tend to not think either too lowly or too highly of ourselves. But I completely missed an extremely important point with that thought – a point that another blogger brought to light for me. Now, this blogger does not follow me back (in fact, I don’t think she even knows I exist lol), so she would have no way of knowing that I just wrote about pride. I got an email from her and the title of her blog was “A Biblical Anecdote for Pride (+ Low Self-Esteem)”. Right away, I clicked on it and thought to myself with surprise “how did she know I was just thinking about this???” Obviously, she didn’t know, but I believe the spirit works in amazing ways and knew I needed to read that. She talks about how finding our identity in Christ helps us find that balance, and I encourage everyone to give it a read. Here’s what it said to me: https://madmimi.com/p/ef1a3c?fe=1&pact=707777-145420421-8997547261-f429231b0821ad56b804ee9069a84d31c086b8df
So now to talk about petulance. What is petulance? Being petulant means having a bad temper, being childish, or sulking. Basically, having a temper-tantrum. The first Bible story that comes to mind when I think about petulance is the Israelites when they escape Egypt (Deuteronomy 15:22-17:15).
God did amazing wonders and provided a way out for them from their captors, but they ended up just complaining about it – and not just once, but several times. First, there was no water, then no food. And don’t get me wrong, these are legitimate concerns, which you need to live, but they didn’t trust God at all to provide when he had just provided a way out from captivity. “In the desert, the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death’” (Deut. 16:2-3). After God sent all the plagues and did so much to get them out, they said that He should have let them die! Talk about hangry. And ungrateful. Basically an Israelite temper-tantrum.
Yet I find myself doing the same thing.
“If only God had saved me from that situation, it wouldn’t have happened and I would have stayed safe”. “If only God hadn’t led me where He has, I wouldn’t be fighting against the struggles I have now”.
I have temper-tantrums when God doesn’t give me what I want. The season of waiting I find myself in is really wearing me down. Waiting to hear back from jobs, waiting hear what God wants for me in the future. Waiting gets annoying and I start to wonder if God is really there – if he really knows what’s best for me. I get frustrated, overwhelmed and, well, I’m petulant.
But this attitude robs me of having the joy I can choose to have in my every-day. When I’m petulant, I am choosing to believe the lies that God doesn’t care, that He is the one who causes strife and that he doesn’t know what’s best for me. I am choosing not to trust God.
But here are some juicy truths to live by and to use to kill that petulance:
- God guides us and will continue to show us the way (Psalm 32:8)
- God knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139: 1-16, Luke 12:7)
- He gives us strength to persevere (1 Corinthians 10:13)
- God is good and faithful (Psalm 34:8, Romans 8:28)
I encourage you to read these verses aloud and pray them as they can be quite powerful when they are truly and fully believed. What also helps me stay focused is looking back on what God has done for me in the past. I keep prayer journals and look back on all the ways he has answered my prayers and provided for me in the past. And there are probably many situations he has kept me safe from, and many prayers He has answered that I don’t even realize!
Suddenly those “If only”s become “God is so good because”s.
In the closing of this blog, I just want to say that it is completely okay to be disappointed with the way things are going. My personality type says I’m an idealist, and that’s true about me. I have high hopes and high expectations, and am often disappointed by the realistic side of life, or when I work hard for something that doesn’t end up happening. Staying in this state of disappointment and wallowing in it, however, just leads to petulance, and to giving in to the spirit of self-pity and complaining. I constantly need the reminder that God’s promises are true and that there is so much joy in trusting and following him!
Life is not perfect and it never will be perfect, especially as a Christian. But Jesus is perfect and I look forward to spending an eternity in literal perfection with Him!
(Photo credits: Kayla Noakes)