A young man I know and love wrote this yesterday,
"All I want for Christmas is a new start to a happy life."
As I read it I thought about my own list, my own thoughts about what I want. "All I want..." is common for all of us. Children do it, we all do it when we told Santa, so many years ago, "all I want for Christmas is...." And with our seemingly innocent statement we make a bigger one. The bigger statement is this, "The list I'm about to give you isn't really 'all I want' but it's a start....and somebody better take care of it or I won't be happy!"
Somehow we have in our minds that there is a magic genie who is supposed to grant our wishes and if they do we will be happy. "All I want is ________ and to be happy" is a way of saying I know what I really need and I know what will make me happy, but WE DON'T KNOW! We don't know what we really want and we honestly have no idea what happy would look like if it showed up on our door. Happy is as elusive as the Easter bunny or a Leprechaun.
We think we know what we want, what happy is, but even if we got all we wanted we wouldn't be "happy" and it wouldn't really be all we want. We would each have a new thing to add to the list!
Our desires betray us. Our minds, our flesh tell us what would truly make us happy, but it won't, it can't. Happy isn't a destination, it isn't a place, it isn't a thing. "All I want" isn't honest, it is never truly "all we want."
So how do we deal with these wants, these longings and the sense that happiness is available when we finally have what we want?
It must start with our view of destinations. We have to realize that happiness is never a destination, never a result of getting something, but it's a relationship with a person...one specific person...and it is never tied to things. It can be found in the midst of suffering, lack, or loss. It can be part of a life when all "I want" is missing and may never be realized.
Happiness is a person. When we tie it to a place, a thing, a goal we never reach it, never find it....because it's not there.
Have you ever been to a third world country where the people have nothing? I have. In those places I find people living in mud huts with nothing, not even food for the day, who are happy. How is that possible? How did they find happiness apart from success, a goal, things? Because when you strip away all the world around us you must come to a basic and very simple truth- happiness can only be found in a relationship with God. When that is realized then our desires morph and we find we don't really need a destination, that certain thing to make us happy....we can be happy with nothing!
David, in his journals we call Psalms, wrote about this as he worked through his own trials and longings. It's a great way to respond to our frequent claims of "all I want..."
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart's desires.