When Your “Want to” is Broken

January 10, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

I was pontificating to one of my daughters the other day (I won’t say who, because, well you’ll see).  I was telling her that there are some ways in which I miss the terrible twos.  Before you declare me crazy, allow me to explain.  You see, when you tell a two year old to do (or not do) something and they do not want to, they make it very plain.  They scream “NO!” or they kick and stomp their feet.  It is clear that they disagree with your assessment of what they should spend their time doing and they clearly communicate to you their displeasure.  What it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in clarity.

Nowadays, rebellion looks a little bit different.  Now when we ask someone to do (or not do) something, there is no screaming fit or tantrum.  There is nothing.  It is as if no one has said anything.  Life continues on.  I told this daughter that I miss the old days when rebellion stared me in the face with defiance than ignored us with passive-agression.

As always, even as I’m talking to my daughter and I am overwhelmingly aware of what a giant hypocrite I am as God whispers in my ear, “Hmm, I don’t know anyone like that.  Someone who just doesn’t want to, so he doesn’t.”  I’m going to confess to you, sometimes my “want to” is broken.  No active rebellion, no anger, just “don’t want to.”

What should I/we do? What do we do when our “want to” is broken?  We’ve all been there.  There are things we know we should do, must do, would be good to do, are right to do, etc.  However, we just don’t want to.

Part of me is tempted to end the post there with a rhetorical question, mostly because I’m not sure I “want to” hear the answer.

I’ve noticed first that my “want to” is tied to how rested I am.  I’m not talking about simply physical rest, but spiritual rest as well.  Usually this is a good indicator that I need to either spend some time in prayer and the word and/or take a nap.  Do not undervalue either of these practices–devotionals and “deep” meditation.

Also, I think it is important that we draw from the “get to” tank before we go to the “have to” tank.  If this is starting to confuse you, I’m sorry.  When we don’t want to do what is right, it’s better for us to remember that it is privilege that we get to serve and honor God with our lives and obedience.  This is significantly better than have to.  We don’t like being reminded that we have to do something any more than our kids do.  Even if it’s true that we have to, I believe it is better to be motivated by gratitude than obligation.

Finally, to invent a phrase never before spoken or written and is certainly not overused in any and all contexts, just do it.  Have you ever truly regretted doing what was right when it was hard, or when you were tired or just didn’t want to?  Maybe we can come up with few random examples, but an overwhelming number of times, we experience a joy from doing what God has called us to that make getting over ourselves worth it, which in turn leads to an increase in “want to.”

So get up and have that conversation you don’t want to have, make that phone call, pick up that Bible and get caught up with your Bible reading plan.  Because you know you want to, even when you don’t want to.

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