What do you really want?
What do you really want?
It is a husband? A job? A group of friends? A healthy baby? A certain life path?
It’s a simple question, but one I think we avoid asking because we’re afraid of speaking aloud the answer. Because when we don’t want anything, then we can’t get our hopes up, which in turn means we can’t be let down. If you don’t really want him to call, then when he doesn’t, it’s ok because you didn’t like him in the first place. If you don’t really want to get the promotion, then you are protected when your friend gets chosen over you. And when you don’t really want the marriage and 2.5 kids, it doesn’t sting when your life is filled with weddings and baby showers that aren’t for you.
I remember being in middle school and dying for a boy to ask me out. I told all my friends about him and tried to make him laugh when we were waiting to be picked up after school. I waxed my eyebrows for the first time and went clothes shopping with him in mind. I heard he liked the color blue, so I wrote him a note with a silver paint pin on blue paper that I slipped into his locker.
He did ask me out, but we only “hung out” for one day before he told me it was over. I was devastated, and felt so small, so stupid passing him in the hallway. It’s a silly example, but all of us can relate to a time when we wanted something desperately, worked really hard for it (Waxing your eyebrows hurts especially when they cover half your forehead), and it didn’t work out. What did all of this make me feel? I never wanted to want anything that badly again.
Many of you may have a similar experience at a young age, but also probably have a list of two or three or maybe a dozen things that you wanted and worked for that never came to fruition. We all do.
But do you know what I’ve noticed?
My tendency, and yours, to lock our hearts up. We keep them safe when we shrug our shoulders, say “I don’t care”, don’t get up early, don’t work towards that job, don’t take the leap of faith, don’t ask God for the baby or the husband or the friend. It’s commonplace to shuffle from one day to the next, numbing our desires because it hurts to want something. The possibility of disappointment looms. So we stare at the ground, don’t really try, and pray to not get hurt.
But I’m going to ask you again, What do you really want?
When I was 24, I moved home from China– pretty beat up emotionally. Dating seemed out of the question, not because I didn’t want to fall in love, but because I didn’t want to risk the negative outcome. I did go on a few dates with guys that were safe because I ‘wasn’t trying’ and ‘didn’t care’.
But one afternoon, I took what is now one of my favorite books, The Furious Longing of God, to the park to read it cover to cover. In one of the last chapters, Brennan Manning talks about a verse in Hebrews that tells us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.” But he focuses on the Greek word for confidence, chutzpah, meaning supreme self-confidence, boldness, nerve, sometimes an obnoxious aggression.
Manning shares this story to illustrate the meaning of the word chutzpah:
Esther Schwartz was in front of a Miami hotel with her grandson, Jacob. Just as she thanks God for Jacob a huge wave comes and washes Jacob out to sea. She is very upset and looks at the sky and shouts, ‘Who do you think you are? How dare you do that?’ Just then a second, tremendous tidal wave washes Jacob, pail and shovel, right back at his grandmother’s feet. Esther Swartz looks up at the sky and shouts, ‘He had a yellow hat. Where’s the hat?’
That, my friends, is chutzpah–how we are to approach God with what we want.
I believe that before we even approach God, we need to be honest with ourselves. That day at the park, I wrote the words “healing” and “marriage” in response to the same question I’m asking you today, What do you want?
What do I want, today? I want a healthy little girl–and I want to her to grow up and have a very full life. It feels risky to even type after I just saw a story in my newsfeed about someone having a stillborn baby. My heart feels like it will break under the weight of desire, because of the reality that I am so out of control. I am not in control. You are not in control. And that’s what makes wanting something terrifying as hell.
It’s easier to move through life, unattached and numb. It’s much easier to not apply for the job, not work our butt off for a promotion, not risk rejection, act like we don’t care if he really likes us, and reject before we get rejected. But the problem with easy is it leads to a life devoid of meaning and true joy.
I did find healing and marriage after that day in the park, but it didn’t come without the raw vulnerability that comes with wanting and working hard for something that may never come to fruition.
If you want a life overflowing with the deepest joy, you are going to have to risk rejection and heartache and maybe even tragedy. And it starts with answering the question, “What do I really want?”
Will you share your answers below? It’s so beneficial when we can all learn from each other & sometimes just the act of posting something raw & vulnerable is the best place to start.
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