I once told someone important (though I didn't know she was important at the time) that I'd always been able to get what I wanted in life. This wasn't a statement of arrogance. It wasn't an elucidation of my nearly infinite skill. It was a simple truth - I've never had an issue getting almost exactly what I wanted. However, it was the second part of the statement I made that was by far the more revelatory for me... the real challenge was wanting the right thing.
Funny how something as simple as that can rock a world at any given moment. A coupled realization: I've always gotten what I wanted, but I've rarely had the "right want" in mind.
The first half is simple enough. Through a variety of means, I'd always managed to get what I wanted.
1) I am pretty good at a lot of things (though not particularly masterful at anything)
2) I, quite simply, lead a charmed life. I can't express to you the number of times that, for no particular reason, things just fall my way. On occasion, I've even come to hate it (at least, that's what I tell myself in the moment), but that's a completely different thought.
3) The most surprising reality in all this? The things I wanted came up pathetically short of the things I should have wanted.
I'd wanted grades - I should have wanted to learn.
I'd wanted prestige - I should have wanted character.
I'd wanted 'the job' - I should have wanted my calling.
I'd wanted to date - I should have wanted to learn to lead.
I'd wanted marriage - I should have wanted to learn to sacrifice.
I'd wanted financial security - I should have wanted to be secure in serving a good God.
All the things I wanted were easily accomplished, of that I'm quite sure. But of course - that's the whole point of the trap isn't it? When your mind has been tampered with to the point that you want good things, but not wholeness - you'll be perpetually "Ok" and perpetually discontent. You'll be perpetually less than what you were created to be. You'll never figure it out until your eyes are opened though. Because above all else - what was the one thing I really wanted in all the above examples?
To be justified. I wanted to be numb to the risks of the short-comings of my desires - and I was wildly successful.
I'd been hardwired to believe that results justified process. To believe that the challenge was achieving what I wanted... not truly understanding what to want. To perpetually address symptoms while hiding myself from disease. Praise God that He awakened me to this.
So, the second half - wanting the right things.
I'm getting better... slowly... I think. I feel like Paul so often though. I realize that in prayer I've managed to say things like this to God
"I want to know what to want. Because I do things I don't really want, but I think I want them. I want to want what you want. But honestly, I have no idea what to want. I know what I want - is it You that made me want that?"
As you can see - my prayer life gets a little confused at times. Usually upon realizing I've trapped myself in the 'What I want is what you want so what the heck do you want so that I can want what I should want' cycle - I just want a coke and to go to bed, which is luckily fairly easily accomplished ;)
But that said - it is that desire that God has placed in me to begin to want the right things that has altered the way I look at life - success, work, marriage, giving, all of it. It's the continuation of the revelation that I won't be joyful if I'm not where God wants me to be. God is freeing me (at least a bit) from the chains of success and opening me up to the freedoms of patience and 'failure'. It's a fun ride.
So. Let's take a step back. Let's wonder not about how to achieve what we want... let's really wonder if we want the right thing. And I don't just mean "Want what God wants for your life" - though that's the correct Sunday school answer. Once you start wondering, how do you figure out? Well, I'm not totally sure, but I've got some ideas... next time.
Good heavens I'm rusty. I tried to write this three times and never felt like I was saying exactly what I wanted to say. Whatever. I surrender and accept that it'll take time to get my writing fingers back under me. Maybe I'll come back some day and make another run... but probably not.