As a young parent, one of my favorite times of the day was bedtime (and no it wasn’t cause I was finally getting the kids to sleep – well not always). No, I loved the bedtime because that was story time. We had a shelf of favorite books. We’d grab one and in our best character voices, we’d read and laugh with our little ones. It was quality time. One of my favorite books to read to my children was If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. It’s just a cute book, right? Wrong…it’s a life lesson.
What I didn’t realize when I was reading that book is how closely it mirrors life. The whole premise of the book is very simple, “If you give a mouse a cookie, they will want a glass of milk. If you give the mouse a glass of milk, they will want a straw. If you give the mouse a straw they will want a napkin…and on and on and on.” This book speaks to the truth that for some of us, the cookie is never enough. There is always something more we want, we demand! We have an unrelenting, insatiable demand for something more.
Now, before I go pointing fingers, please understand…this is sometimes ME! (Especially with God!!) Often I will ask God for something, he will give it. But when he gives it…immediately I try to inform Him of what He left out. My list of demands seems to grow with every blessing He grants me. Funny how that works right? Perhaps I ought to try gratitude which leads to contentment a bit more often. Yikes. So there…there’s the plank in my eye.
Can we talk about your speck now? Some of us have the kind of personalities where we are never content with the cookie that someone in our lives gives us. We are takers. We don’t want to admit that, but we are. We want cookie, milk, straw, napkin, toothbrush…and on and on. Trouble is…when we don’t get it, we get disappointed and bitter. We feel short-changed even as we are sucking down that cookie. People in our lives run around trying to make sure they’ve met all our demands, asking for forgiveness every time they’ve run out of milk. There is just no pleasing a mouse…or a taker. They always want more.
Do you fall into that category? Be honest…are you hard to please? Do you ever stop and take time to consider all the cookies you’ve been given, content yourself with that and just give thanks? Do you ever stop and look to those around you and offer to give them some of your cookies? Do you wear people out demanding they meet another need you have or think you have? Do you live bitter constantly because everyone else around you seems to have enough milk, another napkin…and all you have is the cookie?
Tough questions…right? But necessary. God has called us in Christ Jesus away from being a “taker.” According to Phil. 2, it says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Can I also tell you that gratitude is the best weapon against being “taker.” Gratitude leads to contentment.
If you have a cookie monster mouse in your life, it may be time to start drawing loving boundaries instead of feeding into their unrelenting, insatiable demand for more. When is the last time you simple said, “No!”? Drawing healthy boundaries avoids the co-dependency of trying to please the mouse in your life.