My wanting isn’t just for material things. My want is bigger.
I want security, comfort, and the assurance of knowing I’m taken care of. Sometimes that comes in the form of material possessions like a house, a solid bank account, and 401K (I’m in my 30s and I still think that is something only “adults” have – looking forward to starting one…someday).
But sometimes it comes in other ways – affirmation, acceptance, opportunities, and success. I want to be known, praised, and loved. I try to mask those things with a false humility but I can’t deny them. The more I try to convince myself they don’t exist the more ferocious they become.
What do you want? Be honest with yourself – move beyond the false humility that never suffocates our wants but only makes them grow.
What is the job you really want? The college you would like to get in to? Maybe the person you want to be with or marry, perhaps its just that you want to be married period. In that marriage, do you want kids? A lot of money? Security, safety, comfort? What about your job? Do you want that promotion or do you just want a new job?
I Desire That Which I Have Not
I’ve always wanted. When I was in high school I thought a lot about dating and what girls I wanted to be with or what college I wanted to get in to.
In college I thought about how I wanted to marry the girl I was dating, where I wanted to work, when I wanted to graduate.
Now I want a good school for my kids, want to know what my five, ten, and 20 year plan is. I want a 401K account (someday). I want to “diversify” a non-existent portfolio and plan for the future. I want the house of my dreams. I want to retire early. I want my kids to know they are loved. I want them to love me.
But I smash those things down with what I think is humility. I say – “No, God couldn’t possibly want those things for you. To be Christian is to be destitute, broke, unsuccessful and powerless. Trade in your hope for a 401K for sackcloth and ashes – you will be begging your way into retirement… and by retirement I mean death.”
I don’t think God is asking that of all of us. I think God wants your success.
Christian Self Help Books?
Don’t worry – I’m not going to go full Joel Osteen-prosperity Gospel. Part of being a Christian is living ups and downs and living with a detachment from our wants – but that is precisely why we need to name them. The toxicity of false humility and disregarding our hopes, wants, and desires as something God automatically doesn’t want for us is dangerous because we take God out of the equation.
Those wants don’t go away, and instead of becoming detached from them we hold onto them more ardently and believe we must make them happen because God won’t. In not dealing with our desire appropriately, it becomes detached from God’s will rather than being integrated as part of it.
We miss the intent of the hardest line of the “Lord’s Prayer,” and because we don’t understand it we gloss over when we say it:
Thy will be done.
That line is about submission. It’s a loss of control. And we give up our plans to God’s control – but that doesn’t mean we assume God doesn’t want the same things we want.
Imagine that – complete submission to the will of God the Father but complete trust that God isn’t going to take good things and destroy them just for the sake of doing making us suffer.
Instead, it is taking what we want and saying, “I think this will make me happy, but you know me and know what is best” (Psalm 139:1).
That’s hard because we are afraid and we lack trust. If God really wills our good (Jeremiah 29:11), then we don’t need to fear. And we can only get rid of fear by replacing it with love (1 John 4:18). And when we love someone we trust them.
That is at the heart of detachment. It recognizes what we want and then says, “Lord, if this is your will and will help me get to heaven, live your calling in my life, and allow me to be holy (the best version of who you made me to be), then let it be done. And if not, I’ll let it go.”
The difference is subtle because it takes the desire out of our hands without repressing it.
Detachment is hard because it feels a lot better if our plans and wants are in our hands. Then if we screw it up we can blame ourselves and we can stop worrying about an “evil god” trying to take it away.
There are a lot of things I want. Lately I can’t even count them. It’s hard to let them go to the will of God because I’m afraid I won’t get what I want. It is hard for me to trust that God knows what is best for me and that whatever happens will make me happy. In those moments I lean more deeply into loving the Lord and letting go of my will without trying to repress my will.
That “thy will be done,” is really a lot more freeing than we think. Through all our worries, through all our concerns, through everything we think we have to make happen we need to simply live for the Kingdom and allow for God to work in our lives. By letting go we receive more than we could hope for and we will never be disappointed with the outcome.
Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash