What my kids’ grocery store tantrums taught me about my wish-lists

I can’t remember a time (ever) that our family has left the grocery store without a fight, meltdown, or wrestling match – usually and inexplicably involving me!

“Mom, I want this!” 

“Mom, I want that!”


Kids have no filter. When their eyes perceive a desire of their heart – and they are not victorious in obtaining that prize – they turn into Veruca Salt.

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? James 4:1

But here’s the kicker. After four years of check-out lane tantrums, I’ve discovered that God uses those dreaded grocery store moments to reveal there is little difference between me and my kids. I have desires that produce battles inside me too – only I’ve learned to filter my desires in more manipulative and seductive ways.

  • “If I had that new dining room table, I’d really be able to open my home up to more guests.”
  • “I need to look my best when I’m at work. That means I really need to update my wardrobe each fall. Besides – I usually shop the sale rack.”
  • “That new purse/necklace/trinket is an investment.”
  • “That new car would really make our family life so much more functional.”
  • “I should buy that new best-selling book for my spiritual life. Plus, if I buy it on kindle, I’ll save on shipping.”

The only difference between my desires and those of my children is that I’ve learned to ‘Christian-ize’ my wish-list.

After all, God truly is pleased when I open my home for his glory, when I take care of my appearance, when I steward my investments, and when I strive to keep a well-ordered home. Right?

But herein lies the seduction. Despite extreme cases of need, most of us have everything we need to do all the things God calls us to do. I know I do. But take away the Christian veneer coating my wish-list, and I probably sound pretty much like my kids.

Don’t get me wrong. God has blessed our family immensely, graciously, abundantly. We are more than comfortable. In fact, we are blessed.

But ultimately, our wish-list isn’t even about our desires. It’s about pining and obsessing over something more than the Creator, who is the Giver of all good things. And then we try to get away with poor worship by putting a spiritual spin on our desires.

So, here are three ideas for stripping the spiritual veneer from our wish-lists and re-ordering our heart around Christ:

1.       Get rid of the wish-list obsession with gratitude.

God gives, provides, and blesses beyond measure (James. 1:17).  And although those blessings are not always material – they offer us the only source of lasting joy. So, when you feel the ‘wants’ start to darken your thoughts, send up a note of praise.Thank God for your salvation. Thank God for the teachers in your children’s life. Thank him for the number of beds that fill your house and number of chairs surrounding your table.

Here are some practical ways to incorporate gratitude in your day:

  • Write down your blessings and post your list on the fridge, in your car, or by the kitchen sink.
  • Pick a psalm (like Ps. 145) and thank God for all the different ways he moves listed in the passage.
  • Practice thanksgiving as a family at meals by sharing a praise by turn.

2.       Get rid of the wish-list obsession by evaluating why items are on your list.

We can’t kiss discontentment goodbye until we get to the root of the problem. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the ‘why’ behind certain items on your wish-list. The perfect home, that pretty dress, the cute hairstyle, new clothes for the kids – those desires can sometimes be traced to pride, especially if we allow those desires to overcome us.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that James gives us this warning after he tells us about our heart’s desires:

Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ James 4:6

Evaluate your desires with a heart of worship. God promises to give you grace when you address your heart’s root issues with prayer and repentance. How do you know when pride is at play? Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do you grapple with discontentment or even resentment over the things you can’t afford?
  • Do you sometimes begrudge the blessings of others?

3.       Get rid of the wish-list obsession by fasting from ‘stuff.’

Dedicate an amount of time for setting aside those ‘desires’ that keep you from focusing on him and the blessings he has already given you. If you’re a ‘shop-till-you-drop’ kind of gal, try these ideas:

  • Set small goals for yourself and fast from shopping for non-essentials for two weeks at a time.
  • Remove your biggest sources of temptations to focus your heart on eternal things. Temporarily unsubscribe from emails, Facebook updates, or twitter streams from your favorite stores.  Limit the time you spend on Pinterest or other store websites. Avoid places like shopping malls.
  • Redeem the time you normally spend shopping with reading Scripture, praying, or serving your church and family.

I’ll probably never get rid of my wish-list. But I should always strive to purify my walk with God by finding my ultimate satisfaction in him – even if that process of sanctification occurs in a painfully public place like the grocery store.

Does God use your kids to bring you in line with his image? How so? Share your stories in the comments!

About melissa deming

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of HiveResources.com - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.