My "Deprived" Upbringing

Saturday, July 16, 2022
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1 Chronicles 16:34 – Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (NIV)

This past week, I asked a neighbour to email me a list of old television shows which she thought that I'd enjoy. I replied with a longwinded "Thanks", which afterward exploded within me into an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my upbringing. This reply to her merely got me started:

    Thanks, neighbour, for suggesting television shows for me. You're helping me to catch up on what I missed during those years when we had no television, and I was busy milking cows, measuring cattle feed, shovelling manure, sweeping out stalls, delivering calves, feeding chickens, counting goslings, planting the garden, raking straw, baling hay, throwing hay down from the mow, forking silage, driving tractor, wrestling with that stick shift on the old dump truck, stone-picking, gathering sap, fixing fences, picking cherries, canning applesauce, freezing beans, helping Dad dehorn the yearlings, feeding calves, practicing piano, attending 4-H homemaking club, singing in the church choir … .

    Oh, how deprived I was! Ha! I think I've earned my rest — and a few old shows. Thanks for the suggestions! Love, Diane.

That melodramatic ramble was meant to be a mock pity party for my hard work during those years when all my schoolmates were having fun watching the latest television shows. I still remember those times when I felt ostracized and "out of it". I felt deprived, pushed to the side, while my peers prattled endlessly about their heroes — the movie stars. Yet, when I would step off the bus and onto the farm laneway, I knew that I had returned to a life that I would not have traded for all the television shows in the world.

It's occurring to me that gratitude for my "deprived" upbringing has grown significantly over the years. That makes sense; for like old cheese, gratitude improves with aging. It takes time to appreciate the value of past experiences. Some experiences need years before we can accept them as God's carefully designed faith builders — especially where we've felt deprived.

I'm sure that you'd agree that my background was far from deprived. It was rich in life skills and character builders.

Yet, those benefits have also been weaknesses, for they've tempted me to judge others by thinking (essentially), Thank God that I'm not like them! "They" were typically those I considered lazy. This attitude was a sure sign of my spiritual weakness! My strengths were also weaknesses, in that they made me rely on myself more than on God.

Indisputably, the advantages which life provides can actually deprive us of those very weaknesses which cause us to reach out to God. In that sense, being deprived can serve as our strength. Natural weakness can be a channel for spiritual strength. That's why God told the apostle Paul, "My power is made perfect in weakness", and why Paul could respond, "When I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9,10 NIV)

It's also why the psalmist could confidently declare, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1 NIV)

Let's examine our lives to see how our experiences have made us rely either more on God or more on ourselves. Then we can look at attitudes that need changing to make sure that we're relying on God instead of on ourselves.

Prayer: Lord, examine our hearts and reveal to us where our trust in You has been weakened by the good things in life. Teach us to appreciate those experiences which make us feel deprived and weak, for they help us to discover the lavish wealth of Your enduring love. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    A timely word, Diane. Thanks for sharing.


    Wonderful! Thanks.
    (B.C.)


    Thank goodness you have a good sense of humour!
    (BC)


    Wow! I can appreciate your ‘past life’ as those very things happened to me while raised on a farm!


    You had a very busy youth on the farm but a great way to reflect on it. Thanks and blessings, Diane!


    A good lesson Diane and very well-written. I enjoyed reading about all the farm chores.
    Thanks.


    Amen! When we’re kids, we sometimes don’t appreciate our parent’s values.
    Age has a way of changing that. Thanks for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.


    Good morning, Diane. Thank you for the very kind and helpful messages you send to us.!!
    Thank you for your good messages!
    (NS)


    Diane,
    Merci, ‘Let me count the ways’…[that today’s devotional guides one to identify] the meaningful blessings of not watching TV. Nope. Hard to improve on your list.


    Diane – your words “lavish wealth of enduring love” resonate deeply.
    The amazing experiences of our earlier decades glow steadily in hindsight.
    Thanks for your perspective on God’s Hand in each life.


    Hi Diane,
    Thank you for your encouraging and thought-provoking words. I grew up on a farm and had lots of jobs too. I have never thought about how my upbringing created both opportunities and challenges in my relationship with God. Thank you for your insight.


    Dear Diane,
    I really appreciate your devotional. It supports my thoughts all the way through, and my husband and I have talked about it so many times. Oh, my, the skills we learned, and the self-sufficiency that we needed to turn over to God so He could teach us to depend on Him! God has blessed you with these understandings.


    Dear Diane,
    Thank you for your sharing! I so agree with you! You put into words what I have often thought about, thank you!
    May we indeed check constantly on attitudes that need changing to ensure we’re relying on God instead of on ourselves.
    Blessings.


    Greetings Diane and many thanks for another excellent devotional today. You certainly carried a heavy load of duties in your youth and the Lord’s strength sure was with you to do it all. As we reflect on what we endured in our younger years we sure need be thankful that the Lord guided us through, and we are here to enjoy today. Blessings as you go forward in your faith and sharing your very meaningful writings.


    Diane, your words are packed with so many good deep thoughts. I love the thought comparing gratitude to aging cheese! I’ve been guilty of the propensity of falling into judging others to handle my hidden envy because I didn’t see how my circumstances were actually the best for me. The broader perspective that comes with added years can be a blessing to others. Thanks for sharing yours in this devotional.


    Thank you, Diane. I too grew up on a farm and could add picking raspberries to your list, but I have always said, I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything. It was the best. I guess what you didn’t know didn’t hurt you, as I sure don’t regret missing TV cartoons. My life on the farm and two loving Christian parents was more than I could ever ask for and now I hear from others how jealous they were of my life and at the time I thought THEY had it all. Didn’t know they were missing the love part.
    Thank you again and God Bless.
    (ON)


    Hello Diane,
    Thanks for another devotional today that hit home. Your astute and honest observation of your own tendencies towards letting your strong work ethic create a judgmental attitude, if not checked, really resonates with me. I have struggled with a critical stance for all my life, and have found Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Mathew 7, 1-5 to be most applicable.
    Glad you were so happily “deprived” in childhood. What would we do without farmers!
    Blessings on your day.


    Good morning, Diane,
    A beautiful morning it is for you to enjoy. You like to present two sides to the coin and make me think. You do it in an excellent way to open my eyes to ponder what was my upbringing like, how has it shaped my attitude and my actions. I know that I am guilty of relying on myself and being judgmental. I did not connect this to my upbringing, but just who I am. I can see your valid points.
    I work on this independent and judgmental attitude all the time, but it is still there and rears its head sometimes. I ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit, but it seems to appear after I have failed.
    I will pray your prayer. I will continue to ask God for his help. I will enjoy my good memories. Thanks for sharing and it is always nice to learn a little more about your life. Blessings.


    Thank you, Diane, for naming it! Blessings.


    Our weakness is a blessing that brings us closer to God


    Grateful, always, to read you and what a wonderful list, each one bringing back such memories. Write on.

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