I don’t know where we got the idea that it isn’t okay to want things, but somehow, we’ve gotten there, haven’t we?
Maybe it’s Paul’s teaching from the New Testament — “be content in all circumstances” — that cultivated this expectation, that we should never have any deep, lasting wants. I can see how we could draw that conclusion. It makes sense.
I’ve tried to train myself to be content, but instead I’ve taught myself to want nothing. I chastise myself at the first sign of desire, talk myself out of any kind of longing.
Wanting is dangerous.
But wanting is inevitable, isn’t it?
What would happen if you didn’t eat for more than a couple of hours — you would get hungry, wouldn’t you? If you didn’t get hungry, you’d wonder what was wrong. Maybe you’re coming down with something, or maybe you’re depressed. Maybe your metabolism isn’t working correctly.
Hunger is a sign of health.
The more I think about it, the more I feel like wanting is a sign of health, too. Wanting is part of being human.
It’s okay to want.
It’s okay to want a husband (or wife). Even if you don’t have one, even if you don’t see one on the horizon anytime soon. It’s okay to want one, and to admit you want one. It doesn’t make you seem ungrateful. It doesn’t make you seem weak or desperate.
Wanting is normal.
It’s okay to want a new outfit, even if you’re in a season where it wouldn’t be wise to buy one right now. Maybe you’re a student, or a young professional trying to pay off debt. Or, maybe your closet is packed with new-ish outfits already. You don’t have to feel embarrassed for wanting it.
It’s okay to want. You don’t have to pretend anymore.
It’s okay to want a piece of candy, even if you’re on a diet, even if it isn’t good for you. It doesn’t make you a bad person, or a weak person, to smell a delicious pastry and think to yourself, “that smells so good… I want one!”
In fact, if we try to prevent ourselves from ever wanting anything, we miss the power of what Paul is trying to communicate when he urges us to “be content in all circumstances.” The passage goes like this:
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
- Philippians 4:12b-13, NIV
Did you catch that? Paul doesn’t say that he never wants. He says he has learned the secret of being content, even in spite of his wants. Wanting and being content are not mutually exclusive. It isn’t easy, but he has learned the “secret” to doing both at once.
What’s his secret?
The strength that comes from knowing Jesus.
If you find yourself not wanting for anything, you should ask yourself if everything is okay. Are you coming down with a sickness? Are you depressed? Is your “metabolism” working okay?
Are you being honest with yourself? With God? With those around you?
The problem, if you ask me, isn’t the feeling of wanting, but the sense of entitlement that seems to come along with that feeling. I’m not sure where I got the idea that, just because I want something, means I deserve to have it.
It is possible to want things and not have them.
Sometimes I want a cookie, but choose not to eat it, even though I’m hungry. It might be because I’m fasting, dieting, or saving my appetite for dinner that is coming in less than an hour.
Maybe it’s because I know how I feel when I eat too much sugar.
This is the mark of being an adult, I think, when I am able to make choices that are good for me, sometimes in opposition to my wants and desires.
When I am able to admit my deepest longings, even when I do not have the means to meet them.
What do you want that you don’t have right now? To reply click HERE.