"If I can't get what I want, I'll want what I can get."
L.M. Montgomery put those words into the mouth of Ilse Burnley, a woman about to marry a man who is her second choice, in the third book of the Emily trilogy, Emily's Quest. And, while this may not be a good motto in choosing your life's mate, this small phrase has stuck with me year after year, shielding me from disappointments and balancing my perspective. In fact, this idea has been a driving philosophy in my life, bringing me comfort when the inevitable setbacks or reductions of goals occur.
This does not mean that I dream small, managable dreams. No. Indeed, my fancy often roams as wild as woodland brook in springtime. I love the big dreams, immense hopes, unfathomable what-ifs that fuel my quiet hours and keep me awake and excited far into the night. After all, I believe in the grandest, most seemingly impossible hope in all the world: that I will someday see my Redeemer's face and hear His voice whisper tenderly, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." So, it is not a fear of pursuing the highest that bends me to this practical philosophy.
In a world where so much of what happens is beyond our control, in a world where "the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley," in a world where the ultimate good or purpose of an event is so often shrouded in a mystery beyond human understanding, I have found joy by knowing what I want and, if that fails to come about, to want what I can get. I think that, to a large extent, this idea has forged my even-temperedness and my ability to avoid getting mired in frustration. If my plans get skewed, it is easy for me to embrace a revised plan. If I fail to meet a goal, no time is lost in regrets as I redirect my energies toward a new goal that I can, with grace, achieve. Inherent in the philosophy behind this phrase is the ability to let go of the need for control. Inherent in letting go of the need for control is the peaceful repose of a contented soul.
Wanting what you can get is not really "settling." It is not in any way passive or even really resigned. Rather, it is an active exercise in faith and trust. What becomes attainable in this world is a gift, and learning to want that gift is gateway to fulfillment. What is more in tune with the Father? Setting goals, failing to attain them, then sitting in self-pity and regret, immobilized by your disappointment? Or, dreaming big, doing what you can, and then wanting whatever you are gifted with, no matter how that may deviate from your original dream? To want something is to desire it. Desiring what you can get is a blessing to the Father. It speaks to a willingness to view His provision as sufficient.
I have often not gotten what I have thought that I wanted. But, with His grace, I am learning day by day to want what I can get.