Not What I Signed Up For
While I was back in California over the holidays, I got stood up.
I was supposed to meet a friend, but it just felt like things weren’t working out. Emails took a while getting returned. Schedules didn’t seem to be meshing. Finally, we nailed down a time, and when I got there, he didn’t show.
My friend didn’t intentionally ditch me. I’m not sure what happened, but he had sent a late email saying he was going to be late, but I didn’t check for that so close to leaving, and even though I waited around a while, it apparently wasn’t long enough. So I didn’t get to see my friend this trip.
Of course, the time didn’t feel like a complete waste. There was something about that space that was actually really necessary. I sat outside the coffee shop, waiting around with nothing to do, nothing to distract myself. I just waited and thought about … well, whatever came to mind, sometimes chatting with God, sometimes just musing to myself.
There is a sort of assumption in American culture, an unconscious value that seeps into quite a bit of how we tend to live our lives. It’s the assumption that getting what you want is good and not getting what you want is bad. I think on some level, that’s a simple equality that’s wired into our nature from when we’re really young, but it needs to get a bit more nuanced over time. Many times, though, it feels like that nuance isn’t there, and we just get frustrated at not getting what we want.
Not that getting what you want is bad! I grew up feeling like wanting things could be pretty dangerous. If I went after something, but it got in the way of someone else, I was in trouble. I learned that wanting was bad. I still default to that sometimes. My wife might suggest more often than sometimes…
But on the other hand, many people react quite quickly to not getting what they want. They feel slighted and cheated. They become angry or dejected. We’re an entitled culture, overall, and we’ve equated the object of our desire as always good.
Well, I didn’t get what I wanted that day. My friend and I didn’t get to see each other. But I got something else. And it was only after I got it that I realized it was a good thing. I got what I needed.
Sometimes I guess we need to step back and see how much we’re tying together what we want with our understanding of what’s good. Sometimes not getting what we want can be a far greater good than we know, and how much could we be missing out on that God intends for us if we’re caught up in satisfying desires that might not even be all that satisfying?
So if you spent 10 minutes chatting with God about how your desires are connected to your sense of good and bad, what would come out of that? Might be worth finding out.