Wants and Needs: Part 2 (Click HERE to read part one.)
See if you can identify with this all-too-familiar scenario.
You are standing in the check-out line at Target when you overhear a kid asking their parent to buy them something displayed on the shelf to the side of the checkout. As the parent tries to explain to the child why they are not going to buy them the object of their desire, the child cries out in distress, “But I neeeeeeeeddd it!!!”
They say it in such a selfish tone, you almost feel like you hear them say,
“But I GREEEEEEDD ITTTT!!!”
For the next two minutes, the parent continues to try and talk the kid out of wanting whatever “it” is while the child continues to beg for it. As you are innocently watching this whole scene unfold, you think to yourself…
“What a brat. That kid is so selfish.”
Twenty seconds after the kid and parent walk away, you look to the same shelf and without hesitation pick up a pair of headphones and a small bottle of uniquely-packaged hand sanitizer and stick it in your cart without batting an eye.
You begin your check-out process without even considering the fact that you are no different than the child making the scene–you saw something you “needed” and you bought it. The only difference being you were able to give yourself what you wanted on command without having to answer to anyone and the child was not.
Why is it so much easier to notice selfishness in others but so easy to overlook it in ourselves? I think about this question a lot and I have certainly thought about it this holiday season. As much as I love gifts and gifting…even the concept of a Christmas list can seem somewhat selfish in the right circumstance. It can feel like you are saying,
“Here, now go and get me what I want. And make it good! On with it…”
I have recently felt convicted about it to a point that I have struggled to give my list to those asking this year because I see how skewed the concept has become to my son.
You see, we thought we were doing the right thing in asking him for his Christmas list, but he misunderstood it to mean that he can ask for any and everything he has ever wanted and if he doesn’t get it, his sweet little world will come to an end.
And somehow in the midst of me listening to his list get longer and longer by the weeks and include things I know he wouldn’t even enjoy, it became blatantly obvious to me that we are doing more for him than asking for a list, we are teaching him to be greedy.
So why does this happen? And how can we stop it?
I think as adults it comes down to not just saying but also believing that:
1) Wants and needs are different.
2) Everything we want in life isn’t what we need.
3) God is the one that can sort that all out and ultimately he does not desire a negative or depressing future for any of us. (For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11)
But let’s be real. Believing these things can be so darn difficult if what you want is standing right in front of you looking you in the eye and seems to make a lot of sense. A few examples…
I wanted that job. I was more than qualified. But I didn’t get it.
I wanted to marry him/her. I tried everything. But it didn’t work out.
I wanted a boy but God gave me a girl. Or I wanted a girl but God gave me a boy.
I wanted to be comfortable enough that I would never have to worry about money but no matter what we are always tight.
You see, when I look at these wants as if God were a genie and granting wishes, it doesn’t seem like it would ever make sense for these things to not be granted, but I know for a fact that many people have the exact wants listed above and they never come to fruition in their lives.
So doesn’t God love us enough to give us what we want? Or is he just a mean Santa keeping track of our naughtiness?
No. Not even close.
God loves us enough to give us just what we need. He knows what builds us up and he knows what tears us down and he knows that at times the things we are asking for would be destructive for us even if they seem good in the moment. (This does not mean that everything that happens to us is something God wants for us. That is another blog entirely.)
And while we may not always have the insight as to why the two don’t match up. He does. And everything HE does is driven by HIS love for us.
I mean come on. That IS why he was born into the world. For us. For YOU.
So don’t you think he has our best interest in mind? I do.
Now I’m not saying it is always easy to live this out. But I fully believe it with all my heart even on the days when I am having to remind myself of it on a minute-to-minute basis.
My hypothesis as to how God determines the difference between the two…the things He provides are the things that bring us joy. And joy is lasting. Life long. Till kingdom come and then some.
And our wants. Well sometimes they make us happy (and sometimes they don’t). But happiness is just temporary and can quickly fade. He isn’t interested in giving us something that is temporary. (Have you ever looked back on a prayer and laughed at how silly it was and how thankful you are that it wasn’t answered? My point exactly.)
Joy is what we are looking for. And that is just what God is looking to hand out.
I think we can find this joy by trusting that what we want isn’t always good for us and that God will always provide for us what he deems we need. And if you believe this, and truly mean it. You will exude that. And your children will sense it and embrace it too.
So here is my revised Christmas list for this year. See if you like it.
1) All I want for Christmas is to joyfully want what God knows I need and nothing more.
2) Okay, okay. And a Range Rover. (Cause I’m pretty sure God thinks I need one. :)
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3: 17-20
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