Monday, May 16, 2011

I Don't Want What I Haven't Got

Recently, a friend posted the following status on Facebook:
Try something different today: be thankful for the things you DON'T have. Like a head wound or burning urine....just sayin!
I had to laugh, but yes, it is wonderful to experience a lack of certain things. For instance, I'm happy I don't have any flesh-eating bacteria, open sores, or explosive diarrhea. I'm blessed to have all the parts of my body working like they should.

Over the course of the week, though, I've thought frequently about her post. There are many things that I think I'd like to possess, but don't. I don't want to be a "sour grapes" kind of person, and say that the things I want have no value. Neither do I want to be a "let's find the silver lining" kind of person because, to be honest, I sometimes find these people a little annoying.

Is it possible, though, to recognize the difference between what I'd like and what I have, and still be truly, deeply grateful? Like the Apostle Paul, can I say, "I have learned to be content, in whatever state I'm in"?

I think that I can. In no particular order, here are a few examples.
  • I'm thankful that I don't have too little or too much. It's probably obvious why I'm glad to not have too little, but I'm also glad to not have too much. Even though I never buy lottery tickets, when I see a huge jackpot, I can't help but daydream about what I'd do with the money.

    On the other hand, over the last five years, I've seen God work amazing financial miracles in my life. For starters, I never thought I could be a stay-at-home mom, but here I am. Self-sufficiency would mean the end of miracles. Would I really want to do away with that? Would I really want to stop seeing amazing things unfold in my life?

  • I'm thankful that I don't have a big, fancy house. Though I have lots of faults, materialism isn't generally one of them. However, every now and then, I see a big, beautiful home in an architectural magazine or in a catalog, or I visit someone with a gorgeous house. If I'm not careful, desire creeps in, and I start to wish for a house like that. I have to really stop and consider my wants and needs to fend it off.

    In the end, three factors usually clinch the argument for me.
    1. Housekeeping. I'm a terrible housekeeper. I don't want to clean such a house.
    2. Practicality. I'd rather spend the time and money involved in upkeep on something other than a pile of wood and bricks.
    3. Children. Here is an example of what I mean. The other day, I heard my husband yelling about a mess downstairs. I confess, I let him take care of whatever was going on. After the fuss subsided and I figured it was safe (i.e., the mess was cleaned up), I descended in order to find out what had happened.  Well, that morning, I had bought a bunch of bananas and now they were all gone. Had the boys eaten them? Heaven forbid. Instead, they had peeled all the bananas and had a Banana Peel Sliding Contest. This involved slip-sliding and skidding on bananas all over the house. While I gave the kids a stern talk, privately, I laughed for half an hour.

      I want the kind of house where kids can be kids, and I want to be able to laugh when it happens. I don't think my nerves or theirs could handle living in a museum.

  • I'm thankful that I don't have clean children. From the previous paragraph, you might guess that I often wish my kids were tidier. The boys always seem to be covered in dirt and goo, and don't get me started on the baby. This is a person who plays with wet dog food and thinks the toilet bowl holds dipping sauce for pretzels.

    On the other hand, the dirt and stains and wet spots are like badges that show what they've accomplished during the day. They are signs of creativity, exploration, experimentation. I like that my kids are developing their independence by trying things on their own.

  • I'm thankful that I don't have my "dream husband." In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick's list of criteria for a potential wife cracks me up because I can relate to that kind of pickiness.

    Rich she shall be, that's certain;
    wise, or I'll none;
    virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her;
    fair, or I'll never look on her;
    mild, or come not near me;
    noble, or not I for an angel;
    of good discourse, an excellent musician,
    and her hair shall be of what colour it please God.

    When I was single, I had my own list -- some of it too silly to even admit in public, but it even included items related to facial hair and willingness to take out garbage. My husband is a very good man, but he doesn't meet all the criteria. Nobody could.

    I wonder what would have happened if I'd actually married such a man. I'd probably have hen-pecked him into oblivion by now.

    While my husband and I neither agree nor disagree about everything, one thing is certain. He makes me a better person. If I do something well, he's the first to compliment me. If I act poorly, he doesn't hesitate to call me on it. I really dig that about him. (I also appreciate that he's the kind of man who buries dead goldfish -- a trait I had not thought to add to my list before we were married.)

These items are just the tip of my list. If I spelled out all the things I'm thankful I don't have, this post would continue ad infinitum. The point is that I found I am truly thankful for things I don't have. I don't don't want what I haven't got.

If you're willing to share, I would love to hear what you think. What are some things you are thankful not to have?


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