I asked my two-week old baby that question once. I know – it’s a dumb question to ask of a two-week old. But even as I knew the absurdity of asking her, I also knew I had run out of ideas. I was desperate. I was exhausted. I was grasping at straws. I held all 9 pounds of her up and looked at her eye-to-eye, and with all the restraint I could muster pleaded, “what do you WANT?!?!”
She kept crying.
I’m not really sure how, but we got through it. She’s 30 now – and no worse for the question. At least she doesn’t remember it.
It’s not an entirely bad question, though – really. (OK, I don’t recommend asking someone who’s only means of communication is crying…)
But we ask it all the time. What do you want for dinner? What do you want to do? What do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish? and on it goes…
“What do you want?” can elicit a myriad of responses. Deep things. Shallow things. Immediate things. Long-range things. Proper things…
We think about what we want all the time. From the moment our consciousness transitions from being asleep to being awake what we want drives us. I want to sleep more so I hit snooze. I want to get out of the door on time so I get up. I want to eat something because I’m hungry – or don’t want to be at an inconvenient time. I want to not eat because it’s “nasty” first thing in the morning (at least that’s what my teens say). I want to wear this. I want to go here. I want to remember that. I want to finish what’s on my list. (I want to start what’s on my list!)
All of these wants can race through our minds before our eyelids open, but it continues all through each of our days.
“I want” is almost as much a part of being human as “I think.” We neither consider nor act without some ‘want’ prompting us.
And yet, when we seriously ask each other the question, “What do you want?” we are often met with the same crazed look my two-week old infant gave me so many years ago.
Aside from wants of the immediacy of the next 10 minutes – or day – what do you really want? Inherent in the question is, “what is it that you want in your life more than anything?”
What are your goals? What are your longings? What are you passionate enough to base your decisions on? What is so important to you that you would sacrifice other good things for?
What do you really want???
This is a question I’ve been pondering recently as a result of our women’s Bible study. When I’m thinking through the wants that motivate me, the range of answers is vast:
I want my house clean – and I’d really like it to stay that way for a stretch of time.
I want someone else to make dinner.
I want time to read all the books on my list.
I want to learn French fluently.
I want to lose weight and be in better shape.
I want to have deep friendships.
I want to be appreciated.
I want to love well – and I want to know that I am well-loved.
I want to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength – and I want to know what that really looks like.
I want my kids to love God the same way.
I want to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your Master.”
What ends up bubbling up to the top of our lists reveals where our hearts are. The beautiful thing is that God knows we are frail and made of dust – as he was with Abraham, he is patient as we learn to want for our own lives what God wants for them.
I’ve already made some decisions based on the priorities of these things in my life. I wouldn’t die on the hill of desire to keep my house clean (which, I suppose is why it’s still on the list…), but I would on the one that demands an answer for how to learn how to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I’m pretty hopeful about learning French better – but I’m dogged about teaching my children to love God. These things motivate me to be sure.
But when I’m really honest about my wants during the course of an ordinary day, lesser wants tend to have a bigger voice amidst all those wants clamoring for first priority. I want to be lazy sometimes more than I want to be industrious. I want to be crabby sometimes more than I want to have a joyful heart. I want to criticize sometimes more than I want to encourage. I fall short… a lot… of what I really want.
Thankfully, we serve a Great High Priest who intercedes to God the Father on our behalf – who can change our prayers of “I want what I want” into “teach me to want what You have planned for me” by changing our hearts.
Lord, teach me to want what you want. Teach me to want You.