What do you really want?

girl with a map

Image credit: Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/pin/574842339910621018/

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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38 Responses to “What do you really want?”
  1. Maggie says:

    This is so very true! It is easier to turn off our desires and our hopes and dreams, because if we don’t have them, we can’t have them thrashed or broken can we? And by denying our deepest heart longings, we are ultimately denying God and His greatness – we are doubting that He can do what seems impossible, we’re saying ‘sorry God, but this dream is just too big for you’.
    I’ve come to the point of wanting to give up my dreams, of no longer reminding God what they are, but then I just can’t let them go in the end, because when God gives you the dreams to begin with, only He can really take them away.
    Dare to dream, dare to believe God is bigger than any reality.

  2. Angela says:

    Wow. This is something I’ve never realized about myself before, but is totally how I am.
    What do I want? A husband totally out of my league.

    Thank you for writing this! Always love your posts.

  3. Megan says:

    This post is very timely. I’m a 23-year-old woman who just moved to a new city for a job. I’m thankful for the opportunity, but really, what I’ve been praying for more than anything is a husband. I feel like I’ve prepared myself well for marriage. I’ve read all the books and know that I’ll be a sinner marrying a sinner and that it won’t be perfect. But, I want so badly to partner with someone and do life with then. However, it doesn’t seem like it will happen anytime soon. I’ve started to feel hopeless and even try to convince myself I don’t care anymore. Your post is perfect. I need to own this desire and storm God’s throne again and again.

  4. Nicole says:

    I can’t even begin to describe how much your words and thoughts and meaningfulness of your blogs does to my
    Own heart. I firsts stumbled upon your book, “Real Men Don’t Text” after a confusing relationship and it changed my life. When I read your blog entries, it’s as if you are reading my own own heart and desires. I recently found an article you wrote entitled, “Stop waiting for him to ask you out.” MINDBLOWING! Sent it to half my small group girls and we can’t get enough! Praising God for leading me to finding you and your words and thoughts that touch me so deeply.
    Thank you, Ruthie:)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Nicole! Wow, I’m very encouraged that my words have impacted your life. It’s an unbelievable privilege, so thank you. Please keep letting me (and others) know how the blog posts are impacting you in the comments.

  5. Blessedgirl says:

    I want to meet the man that I will marry and have children and serve God together and be truly happy and i want it desperately! I also want my heart to be completely healed of the pain of a broken relationship.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      So honest, thank you for sharing your desires with all of us!

    • Tanya says:

      I want the same thing, i want to meet the man i will marry and marry him! And serve God together and be truly happy and i want it desperately! I also want my heart completely healed of the pain of a broken relationship. And i want my kids to know and love and serve God and to know his love for them! AMEN. In Jesus name. I want to be blessed. I cant earn it, ive tried, i just want to be blessed.

  6. Ashley says:

    Hi Ruthie,

    Great post! Thank you for writing this and sharing from personal experience. You’re right-we have to be willing to step out and risk rejection by admitting what we want. It’s so hard for me! :) In answer to all five of your opening questions…yes!!

    I think especially when we’ve prayed and waited so long for certain dreams to manifest, the allusion is it feels safe to not risk the disappointment of another silence or not yet from God by asking again. But I don’t want to live like that. Your words have encouraged me to ask…again…or at least acknowledge what I really want.

    God bless you, and many congrats to you and Michael on the news of your baby girl!!! 

    Every Blessing,

  7. Lianne says:

    I know what I want and I have wanted it ever since I was a little girl – that has NEVER changed. When you have sat your friends’ second, third, and even fourth weddings, it is very frustrating to wondering why they can have more chances and you cannot even have a first. It is easy to become angry, resentful, and the belief in God begins to waver – if not entirely. I have repeatedly prayed, begged, made deals, everything . . . only to have ended up extremely heartbroken and angry. Why bother trying anymore to end up with so much rejection and emotional pain? I gave up the wanting of a baby because after turning 50, I know that will never happen, but thought there could be hope for a good and happy marriage. It has been over ten years since my last date. I am beginning to understand why some choose to end it all.

    I never believed in taking the first step and asking a man on a date, but did try only to be rejected every time. I even tried online dating on and off for three years. There were some interests, but each time I either received no response, a kind rejection, or the ones that continued beyond a simple “Hi, how are you?” ended up a scams. I have never met any of the men face-to-face.

    Not only did the risks destroy me emotionally, they instilled some new things – lack of confidence, lack of self esteem, and the impression that I am totally ugly. I would be happy with a male companion – someone to talk to, confide in, share interests, laugh – it not longer has to be marriage. I cannot even get to that level.

    It is very, very hard to try and take risks when you feel God does not want you to have that want and seems to do everything he can to interfere. I do not know His plan, but what few wants I have (only two), have not and/or do not seem to be coming to fruition.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Oh Lianne, your story is so heartbreaking. Thank you for being brave and sharing it here.

    • Kim says:

      I feel the same, why ask if you are not going to receive, I see lots of couples and I iknow for a fact they are not religious of any sort so why are the none religious people happy couples and the faithful not? Are we praying to something that doesn’t even exist?

  8. Kim says:

    I don’t think God listens, I have prayed and prayed for this one thing and nothing has happened. I do not get any answers. I feel lost .

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      I get it, Kim, I really do.

    • Felicia says:

      Hi Kim, I totally understand how that feels; that feeling of asking and asking and asking and never receiving an answer. It took me time to understand that sometimes, just as much as ‘yes’ is an answer, so is ‘no’ and ‘wait’. I hope you receive your answer soon, in whatever form they may come. But always remember, He listens. Keep holding on Kim, God bless!

  9. Katie says:

    Hi Ruthie,
    I really appreciate your messages. A lot of what you say sounds familiar.
    I want so much more for myself and I want to share my life with someone. I want a family, too. However, I’ve not been best with aligning my actions with my long term goals. (For instance, I spend time with guys who string me along and do not seem to want committed relationships.) At the age of 32, took too long to realize this!
    It is important to focus on, “What do I really want” but also balance this desire knowing that we aren’t in control of very much. How do I fully accept the fact that I may not get “what I want”? How to do that and be at peace?
    These are difficult topics!
    Nashville, TN

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Yes, accepting that we may be disappointed is so hard! Thanks for sharing, Katie. And so cool that you are in Nashville, too!

  10. Jami says:

    When I saw the topic of this as I opened my iPad to read my devotionals. Right away I opened this article because I know what is locked away in my heart.. Desire to be married again. I admit I go through phases of praying for God to bring a wonderful caring man in my life. The as time goes by, it gets harder to keep praying the same prayer over and over. I know he KNOWS what I want but why isn’t it happening?? I tell myself be grateful that I have three beautiful teen boys who have been by my side all these years as a single Mom. As I read the other women’s comments, I feel their pain. I know some will read mine and think, ” well at least you were married once and have children.” It’s true, even though I came out from an ugly abusive marriage. I have been single Momma for 12 years now. Soon will be an empty nest… I do believe now that it was God’s plan for me to raise the boys myself. Now, I need to unlock the door to my heart and surrender it to God and believe He has the right man out there waiting to hold my hand..

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Jami, incredible what you just shared with us here. Thanks for your courage to share it and for the courage to ask God for what you desire.

  11. Eden says:

    Thank you for this post, Ruthie. Most of all, my deepest desire right now is to find a fulfilling job. I have been finished with my Master’s degree for two months now and have applied to over 100 jobs, with no luck. Thank you for this reminder to continually put this desire before God, because He will provide the right job at the right time. I worked hard to get where I am now, and I know God will honor that, as He is the one who gave me the strength to push through school.


  12. Sherri says:

    I have always tried to live my life by the motto that Helen Keller stated that we are to “live life as an adventure or don’t live it at all.” But I have been very much burned when all I did was ask God for something. But in this I learned that God is not here to make me happy, but to make me Holy…and sometimes that process of waiting or not getting is about my Holiness and not my wants. Now, that being said, I still believe God grants me the desires of my heart. But I think I am afraid of being disappointed…or thinking I am not worthy of such a blessing. I correct my thinking, then feel rejection and crawl right back into that hold…safe and alone. I want to be an example to my daughter of God and find it hard because I wish she saw day in day out what a healthy marriage looked like, not a mom who is single and trying to make ends meet. Confession…I have always longed to have someone I could live to love for my entire life…yet I’m divorced twice…an abuser and a bipolar alcoholic. I strive to break this chain that attracts these people to me or me to them. On paper I should be considered desirable or a great catch. But then I see my weaknesses or mistakes and wonder if God could really ever find someone that would deal with me. So, lots of craziness…but I always come back to hope…in HIM not in me. There has to be other crazies out there…right?

  13. Ana says:

    Hi Ruthie!
    I just want to say that it is so cool that the LORD has blessed you and Michael with a baby girl. What an awesome privilege! Seriously so cool. I can’t get over the fact that the LORD entrusts us with the lives of humans. Humans we get to impact for eternity. The moments that impact children the most are often the ones that seem insignificant to us “big people” which is funny. Crazy wonderful. :)

  14. Rebekkah says:

    I get it… So badly I get what you’re saying…. And I’m so tired of knowing and admitting what I want, when it never seems to happen and my heart keeps getting broken over and over again.
    I want to be someone’s first choice. I want to find the one God has for me, and settle into life with him.
    I want to be a mom, to have babies, and raise them using all the Grace of God.
    I want to live the adventurous dreams that have always been in my heart, dreams that involve saying the hard goodbye’s and moving to a new place, learning to rely completely on God all over again.

  15. Brittanie says:

    I was starting to have Ruthie Dean withdrawals lol. Great Article :)

  16. Allie says:


    You nailed this one, lady!! Oh man! And I read it exactly at the right moment for me!

  17. lilA says:

    Thanks for this! This is soo true! It is always easier not to say it so that you don’t have to deal with the disappointment of not getting it.

    I want a husband and to finally get a fulfilling job.

    The reason I am never brave enough to say it ANYMORE is because I have said it soooo many times before God but have been disappointed every time. As a result, I have found it easier to cushion myself from disappointment and hurt from God by not asking anymore. While I still love God and have a relationship with Him, I have just resorted to stop asking anymore because I don’t want to get to the point where I move away from Him because of disappointment.

  18. Mary Margaret says:

    Thank you for the reminder to be brave.

  19. Bee says:

    Oh man, this did hit home. I know I tend to not admit to myself or anyone else what I long for, because it’s easier to just convince myself I don’t care than to actually let myself be okay with caring and maybe not getting it.

    What I want is what I’ve wanted since I was a tiny girl-to marry a man who loves Jesus deeply, who loves kids and views them as a gift, to have children with him and raise them together by God’s grace to love Jesus deeply, and live to know Him and make Him known. To be a stay at home mom and homemaker, with my husband’s blessing and support. Even to homeschool my kids.

    Some days I have the chutzpah to ask boldly and even point out to God in Scripture where He says marriage is a good thing and children are a gift and blessed are they whose quiver is full. Other days…….I barely have the courage to mention it at all. But He keeps telling me to ask, every time I’m close to saying never again, He reminds me to ask Him. So I’m continuing to ask. And let myself be okay with being brave and owning my desires instead of denying they exist.

  20. Faydra says:

    Thank you so much for this blog today. There was a reason that I was to read it today. I have been struggling with the feelings I have for the man I love. I have always been the type to “hurt” myself rather than allow the option of someone else to hurt me. I feel if I can fail myself I can deal with that emotion rather than someone else make me feel that way. I know that God has a plan for me and I have faith that he will guide me the right way. But thank you for opening up my eyes and heart to the thoughts that without risk their is no reward. I believe that in order me to truly allow this man to love me I have to give him my heart to do as he pleases whether it is hold it up high or smash it to pieces. I will never know greatness until I start to achieve it.

    Thank you again!!!

  21. EMILY says:

    this is one of those things I am going to have to really continue to read, because it’s exactly where i am.. i am too “afraid” to want anything, because of past pursuits that ended with major slammed doors.. Once those doors slammed, I said, ok, fine Lord, what do you want for me to do- to which after wrestling with things in my heart, opportunities would just appear our of nowhere, etc. God isn’t a genie in a bottle, nor does He want for me to be a robot.. However, I have found myself in a place of not wanting to want anything, because the things I am truly wanting will devastate me if they aren’t His will for my life. I have been seeing this, and noticing my view of God is probably off, but I am not able to really trust that my desires, or wants are what He would want.. I would rather hide out, then face that God would want marriage, or a family, etc for seemingly “everyone” else, but would want singleness and being alone for me. This is the ugly truth of my fear, and so thank you for visiting this topic, I will definitely be reading this over the next few days.

  22. Julia says:

    I have had this post in my email for a few weeks now and for some reason haven’t had the opportunity to read it until today. I am so glad I read it instead of deleting it like I was doing to others as I was cleaning out my inbox. Wow!!!! I honestly thought I was alone with my feeling the need to just shut off my emotional attachment or expectations of things. Like you said…. It’s so much easier to just go through life not getting your hopes up because you get sick of them being dashed again and again. And sometimes I start to feel like no matter what I do to draw closer to God and trust in him for what deep down in my heart I truly want it just seems like I get older and older and it keeps just being out of reach.

    In answer to your question… What do I want? I want a strong, Godly husband. I want a family. I want to feel like it is still within my grasp even as I look towards my 30th birthday coming faster than I want it to.

  23. Thank you Ruthie for this amazing post. I found you on Relevant Magazine with 8 Things Healthy Couples Don’t Do which I liked very much eventhough I´m single while reading I thought that´s the way it should be.
    I know what I want, but I never thought someone else would feel the way i feel, and just by reading this post I saw lots of my life going on and God showed me again that I´m not alone. Many of us have fears, we fear of rejection, we fear of getting hurt, so let´s hope it´s just a season. I can rest knowing that God wants us to enjoy freedom, He has the control over things.

  24. Gina says:

    Hi Ruthie,

    Just finished reading the last few pages of real men don’t text and I stumbled upon this article. What I want is a relationship….but I’m realizing that I’m one of the people that you speak of who has turned off their passion and I don’t seem to want much of anything wholeheartedly. (Allthough deep inside I do.)

    I’ve went through 2 failed engagements as a Christian and a ton of other hurtful situations that I believe have numbed my passion. I recently met a great guy and he has soo much passion and vision and focus in his life. And it’s made me realize that I used to be like that….but the hurts have quenched me.

    So here goes…..could you PLEASE :-) share your thoughts or write a post on how to re-cultivate that passion if you feel you’ve lost that ability to wholeheartedly want?!?!?



  25. Penny says:

    What a great question! So simple and when put in the context of opening your hear back up so powerful. I want marriage, healing and love so furiously I don’t remember ever feeling this.

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