Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wanting What I Can Get

"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.


Flicka Spumoni said...

"Godliness with contentment is great gain." Immediatley comes to mind. It seems you've got that, contentment and the great gain that comes with it.

Great post and good for you.

Boy, do I ever need that.

Andrea said...

This reminds me of a song I grew up singing, you might know it:

Jehovah Jireh, my Provider
His Grace is sufficient for me, for me, for me!
Jehovah Jireh, my Provider,
His Grace is sufficient for me.

My God shall supply all my needs
According to His riches in glory
He will give His angels charge over me
Jehovah Jireh cares for me.

I love that song.
Keep cranking out the uplifting posts!

CrazyJo said...

"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."

I "know" this, but I need to have it firmly implanted into me. I can be such a control freak sometimes. God's working on me, but it's hard to give up control long enough for him to do the work! :D I've never been a person that deals with change well, so learning to "go with the flow" and "want what I can get" are things I'm having to learn.

Justine said...

It's funny. The only reason I even wrote about that quote is because it is one that Jason particularly dislikes. He thinks that it means always settling for second best, whereas I, obviously, see it as something entirely different.

Another L.M. Montgomery quote that I often use that annoys Jason is:
"Please yourself and you'll please me."

Not sure why that one bothers him so, since no statement could be more obliging. I think sometimes that my man thinks I'm just a little too easy-going and well-contented.

Maybe when he married an Italian he was expecting a little more of a spitfire!

Andrea, I've never heard that song, but I like the lyrics. Thank you for sharing it! I love the Lord's reply to Paul's plea: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Of course, too, there is Jennifer Knapp's song of the same theme: His grace, His grace is sufficient for me. If that knowledge does not free a soul, then that soul must love its bondage.