The Right Way to Want

There are two philosophies about success.

  1. Take what you want, look out for yourself. Be self motivated, self aware and self-driven. Look deep inside, learn to love and respect yourself and do what it takes to make yourself happy. 
  2. Be utterly self-effacing. This attitude is often touted from the pulpit as the Christian way to behave. Supposedly, by neglecting your own desires and elevating the aspirations of others, you will find supreme fulfillment.

Is either way true? From my experience, no. On Monday, I shared with you what I am learning about want in the foundations of my struggle with anorexia.

It was so sneaky that even I did not recognize my greed. An anorexic appears to be in need. The life of an anorexic is an exercise is asceticism, self denial, ultimate self control. But for me, it was ultimately a ploy to get everyone else to condescend to all my demands. That’s a pretty ugly naked.

Greed can wear two disguises, one flashy, the other demure.

I was reading a rather familiar story in Numbers 32. It is the story of Moses finally leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, or at least very close to it. This is one of those accounts that I have read and assumed it must have a deeper meaning than what I am able to scrape off the surface.

The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, ‘Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon— the land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes,’ they said, ‘let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.’

And then I got it! Do you see it?

I continued reading the chapter. Moses was pretty upset with the three tribes’ brazen request for what they thought was best for them. Instead of following the original plan and accepting what God had planned for them in Canaan; instead of marching into battle for conquest of the Promised Land, these guys were asking for they wanted!

But God said, “OK.” God heard the request of the Reubenites and Gadites, and honored it. I gleaned several things from this about my own needs and wants and how and when to ask for them, as well as how and when to surrender.

  1. The Reubenites and Gadites acknowledged that God had blessed them with abundant cattle and they believed that this portion of land would allow them to practice good stewardship of His blessings.
  2. They were attentive to God’s provision and they asked for God to generously give them this portion of land.
  3. They asked humbly, heard Moses’s response and listened to his criticism.
  4. They did not cower in guilt at Moses’s rebuke, but stood up for what they thought was good.
  5. They continued into battle with their fellow Israelites in order to secure God’s blessing for the other tribes as well.

“Love yourself and make yourself happy,” is a mantra in our society. Adding confusion, is the Christianese admonition to overlook one’s self. The TRUTH is, God wants us to look to Him for blessings. He wants us to expect Him to be good. And He longs for us to be grateful for His generosity. Finally, God wants us to extend that same favor to others.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Ps. 145:15-19

I’ll Tell You What I Want

Here is a naked truth that I did not even know about myself. As I sort old journals, cull memories and query friends and family, I am realizing how little I actually knew about my own battle with an eating disorder. It’s kind of like taking a shower, an effort to cleanse away the day’s dust, and discovering a birthmark you had never seen before. images

Obviously, it’s been a part of me forever. Since opening the womb, my “me-ness” has been as God sketched it. My soul has born the same imprint. Surely, culture and family and circumstances ebb and flow across each life and erode some things faster than others while sifting silt and revealing precious stones. But I had hardly seen it.

I was told that in writing my book, I must “bleed on the page and be saved in the process.”

Well, sometimes bleeding hurts. And when you’re naked, even the smallest prick can make you bleed.

I WANT.
You see, I grew up the oldest of four girls. One of the anthems that I remember echoing through the halls of our home was, “Abby, you’re the oldest, can you please just give in this time?”  – – or – –
“Be the mature one.” – – or – –
“I expect more out of you.”

And I did, and I was. But denying want does not erase it. In fact, denying want on the surface dug a deep, subversive pit in my heart where I stuffed want and greedily demanded all my desires while on the surface, others observed a starving little girl denying even her need to eat.

Now, I can clearly hear the melody of my heart all those years, the percussion to which I kept time:
I want you to want me. I want you to think I am the smartest, the thinnest, the most beautiful. I want you to want to be me. I want to be enviable. I want to be impervious. I want to need nothing. I want you to know that I am strong. I want to think I am better than everyone else. I want others to think I am self-disicplined. I want, I want, I want. I want all of my parents’ attention. I want to be your favorite. I want you to notice me. I want you to think I am spiritual. I want your sympathy. I want your touch. I want to be able to have everything I want. I want you to tell me I can eat anything I want. I want to be safe. I want to be independent. I want, I want, I want. 

It was so sneaky that even I did not recognize my greed. An anorexic appears to be in need. The life of an anorexic is an exercise is asceticism, self denial, ultimate self control. But for me, it was ultimately a ploy to get everyone else to condescend to all my demands.
That’s a pretty ugly naked. 

Now, lest you think I am unnecessarily berating myself, or attempting to beg pardon, let me tell you the TRUTH.
I was needy. I do want things.
There are a couple differences now, this is not selfishness. I have learned to ask for things – both my  needs and wants. Secondly, I am learning to be attentive to the needs and desires of those around me. And lastly, I have stopped looking for others to notice and fulfill my emptiness.

I have found the bottomless source of gifts. I have found the unquenchable fulfillment of all my desires. I have found the solitary source for the satisfaction of all my needs. And He loves for me to come to Him HUNGRY. 

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Ps. 145:15-19

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

 

If One is Good, Two is Better, or is it?

“God doesn’t want what we have. He doesn’t want what we have to have us.”

Craig Groschel

Once again I am amazed at the repetitiveness of our great God. Once again, I worry that He is only repetitive with me, because I’m hard headed. Over a month ago, I decided to tackle this Project 333 . Since then, I picked up a book that my mom has been after me to read for a long time. A dear friend of her’s recommended it from the depths of despair in her own life. She said that second to the Bible, this book had done more for her spiritually than any other resource. Then my mom said the author wrote much like I do, so I had to check it out. I highly recommend it, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. 

“…if I’m fearlessly blunt – what I have, who I am, where I am, how I am, what I’ve got – this simply isn’t enough. Does [God] not want me to be happy?” page 14

Then, a couple night ago, I needed some holy background noise, so I pulled up a LifeChurch.tv  sermon on my IPhone. Pastor Groschel is doing a series on “better” – letting go of the good in order to exchange it for God’s better – actually  God’s best.

All of these sources have been chasing me. Like curiosity being hounded by a frightening idea – I want to escape and to experience this notion: less of what I think I want, less of what I believe will make me happy in order to embrace the promised happiness of my heavenly Father. It is antithetical to my world. I’m bombarded by desire. Not a moment passes that I don’t admire someone else’s …, hanker for more …, envy another’s perfect …, dream of a better …, crave the extra or lust after the extreme.

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.” pg. 15

I wonder, do I cause much of my own anxiety because I am convinced that my life should be better? Because I am always lusting after a forbidden tree even while I have the whole garden in front of me? I wonder, would I have enjoyed yesterday more if I hadn’t been planning today?

I have spent much of this week culling through my closet. I know that I can live with less. I know, in my head and heart, that I don’t need this many options. But you have no idea how hard it is to select which options I want to keep. Just saying that makes me realize how spoiled I am – I even get to chose my options!

In the same sermon that I mentioned above, Groschel told of family “give away” parties. They set a goal of 200 items each. There are 8 people in their family – that means they gave away 1600 things! Imagine the reduction of chaos? the exponential space? the freedom of movement? the high of austerity (relative austerity).

I began by going through my closet. I also confessed that led to the accumulation of a couple new things (:

In tandem with that sentiment, I’m setting a goal of giving away one item a day for a year. I live near a Goodwill drop off location, so it shouldn’t be too hard to walk to the bin and relieve myself of one excess item everyday.  Will you join me?

Yesterday, I asked what is the first thing you think of when asked what you can’t live without. Now, I want to know, what can you give away? How will you do that?