I do not take fondly to being called a “millennial”, although it is a fact that I am one. “Millennial” is the label that has been plastered upon my generation, and every individual that has been born into it. This word itself brings cringes from the bundle of nerves in my sacrum. It describes a generation of people born within the last few decades and the first few years following the recent millennium, hence the name. The word annoys me because of the underlying notion of entitlement that comes with it.
Entitlement is a feeling that one is deserving of privileges, of rights, of being treated a certain way. If I were to be honest, I could not wash my hands to it. I can name (many) instances that I caught myself feeling entitled to something. Days when I was mad that I wasn’t being picked up on time, times that I felt that I didn’t have to do a certain task because I held a special position, when I felt that a teacher was being unfair because they weren’t teaching me a certain way or that I was being treated harshly. You name it, I’m probably guilty of it.
I don’t feel that anything is wrong with wanting something that is rightfully yours. There is merit in knowing what is due you and fighting for it. It can be expected, it is just, even the Bible supports it. What justice would there be if nobody asserted their rights? But I believe the problems arise when our goals, our vision, our purpose and God’s purpose for our lives, is dethroned by our ego fighting for what we so desperately believe we deserve.
Being in medical school has helped me to slowly realize this for myself. I am not perfect, and I still have so much leveling up to do as far as humility is concerned. But God has used medical school to teach me that my life is not about myself. If I want to live my life for him, I have to stop expecting good things to come my way, that I (most of the time) have to work hard if I want to get what I want, and that I am to put the interests of others before my own.
Myself being in my third year of medical school, I can attest that it has not been a smooth journey. Being consistently tested not just for knowledge but also for endurance, perseverance, and diligence tempts one to deviate from the ideals that one lives by. When a lecturer disrespects your class and imposes unfair standards, it is very easy to grumble, and to stray to an attitude of rebellion and discontent, rather than turn to acceptable methods of grievance. When things get tedious and monotonous, one is tempted to be disrespectful, give a halfhearted effort, and complain that the lecturers “do not know how to teach”. With this attitude, when one’s world comes crashing apart, one would ultimately resort to self-gratifying behaviors–food, alcohol, friends, video games, series, you name it–forgetting turn to God in prayer.
When you have an attitude of entitlement, God is no longer your god. Instead, you make yourself the captain of your own ship, sending yourself wherever you want to go. You become your own ‘god’, a scary place to go.
The title of ‘god’ comes with a very demanding job description. It means managing reality itself (or whatever it is you are the ‘god’ of) around the clock, 86,400 seconds a day, 365 days a year. It means upholding truth, and bestowing justice upon all your creation. I myself have a hard time managing my own schedule as a medical student, let alone the universe and everything in it. When I realize this, I remember that in all of history, there has only been ONE who has ever been able to fit the job description.
I don’t live my life for just myself, because if I lived it just for myself, to what avail would that be? Living for myself to an end is vanity, as my life is only so small and so short relative to eternity. Life is only worth living if I lived it for God. If it means submitting to His will, then it is worth it to put my rights at the backseat.
Because of who I am, I deserve nothing. But God, through His love and mercy, has given me all that I need. My purpose and destiny is secure in His purpose.
I deserve nothing, but He has given me everything.