What do you want used to be a difficult question for me to answer. These days it’s pretty much become second nature. I was first genuinely asked that question some 18 plus years ago. Oh, others had asked it of me before that time. But I had learned to ignore it.
My mother was a loving person who got really angry at times. One time when I was asking the same question for the 49th time, she screamed, “WHAT do you want?” As a child I quickly learned to soften the voice of what I really wanted in order to give her, and all adults, what they wanted—a little peace and quiet.
When I was 12, I had my first boyfriend. I was head over heals in love. I just knew we were going to get married and have 19 kids and counting (just kidding on the number). It was a summer romance. When he went to a different school in the fall, he found a new girlfriend and brought her to church with him. Now you may think I was meaner than a junkyard dog to her, but no I had learned how to deal with these feelings. I became a good friend. In the midst of doing what I thought was right, what I wanted became totally unnecessary. “What DO you want?” I was beginning to think that was a question that a “good” person didn’t ask. Good people didn’t give in to their wants.
As the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter, I was blessed with lots of living relatives when I was growing up. As much as I loved being part of large family reunions, I quickly learned that who I was seemed always couched in terms of where or who I came from. I was the oldest sibling therefore I was supposed to be the most responsible. I was supposed to carry on the family togetherness. It was supposed to, but who was I really? I was a wife, mother, daughter, grand-daughter, sister, aunt, writer, editor, church member, friend. But I who was I really? Were any of those titles who I really was? And the question seemed to get more and more distant. “What do YOU want?” I didn’t even know who I was. How could I know what I wanted?
A plaque in my step great grandma’s kitchen said, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” At this point in my life, that saying seemed to sum up everything. I was working harder than I probably ever have in my life before that time or since. But I felt like I was getting nowhere. I remember praying this prayer: “Lord, just give us enough money to pay our bills.” I wanted to survive. So, in essence, I knew something of what I wanted. However, it didn’t feel like a want, it felt like a need. “What do you WANT?” I thought I knew but, I had no real idea.
So 18 years ago when another woman stepped into my face and demanded the answer to the question, I was somewhat taken aback. The asking was done in love and required a truthful answer. She wasn’t going away. She was staying until I worked through every word in that question, until I knew. It was almost like she whisper-yelled it to me. “What do you want?”
“What” involved the possibility that it was OK for me to even be asking the question. “Do” represented the reality that there were things that were OK for me to have. “You” meant that the Creator fashioned me in a uniquely profound way to have impact on this earth. “Want” said that all the universe was holding its breath waiting for desires and dreams within me to be unleashed. That’s a WOW!
What do I want? I want to be a whole, healthy, happy woman of God. What am I? I am a whole, healthy, happy woman of God.
Thanks, Pat, for asking the question. And just when I thought I had a handle on that question, another was asked. “Why do you have what you want?” OK, truthfully, I’m working on that one. I’m also working on thanking Russ for asking it.