I’m not always good at asking for what I want, nor saying much of anything directly. You should have seen how long it took me to write that sentence.
I’m a dreamer, that’s for sure. My dreams usually pertain to creating something or otherwise improving something. I believe dreamers can change the world – at least dreamers who aren’t afraid to fly. But, my wings were effectively clipped years ago.
Over my lifetime, I explored some things my heart was drawn to explore whenever I escaped the margins of my tiny, enclosed, inherited world. But not until fairly recently did I explore without looking over my shoulder, fearing some form of retribution.
I was raised not to gamble, or play cards for that matter. Life was framed in terms of avoiding a long list of behaviors, words and activities deemed either sinful or else unbecoming. As a teen, I had to sign an agreement to be “prudent and circumspect in my behavior at all times.” Expectations were high for behavior but low (or at least unspoken) for achievement. These days, I’ll buy a lottery ticket now and then, but only if the payout is exceptional. I won $2 in the last one for $1 billion, so I broke even.
It took me a really long time – several decades – to break free from some of the weight of unnecessary chains of fear that I inherited. I’ve grown away from a theology that sees God as Supreme Punisher of bad deeds to a theology that sees God as Love and Mercy and Grace that I could never adequately describe but revealed in and through Jesus Christ. I don’t think God’s love is withheld if or when we behave badly. The goal of God’s love is not my suppression, but rather, my fullness and freedom to be all that I am. If I respond well, then I’ve received Love well.
Part of the difficulty I’ve had in asking directly for the things I have wanted includes the fear of being rejected. My experience in childhood and young adulthood was to be rejected when I did things that were deemed unacceptable. What I thought and felt was often in conflict with what was acceptable for me to do or be. That cycle would manifest itself as me seemingly not knowing what I wanted. But the truth was less that I didn’t know what I wanted and more that I couldn’t reconcile what I wanted with what I was allowed to think, say, be or do. I was afraid, and I still fight that conditioning on most days.
In the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus had a quick and ready answer: “Rabbi, I want to see!”
If Jesus were to ask us the same question, I expect many of us would have to ponder it much like we would ponder the 3-wishes offer from a genie, or what we’d do with our winnings if we won a lottery. What do we really want? And further, what do we want God to do for us?
Bartimaeus, it seems, knew what he was missing by losing his sight. Several translations indicate his request was not only to see, but to see again.
Nothing can clear away years of false walls and chains like an identity-shattering loss.
No one wants to suffer. And no one who has experienced great suffering wishes it on anyone else. However, speaking as someone who has experienced great suffering, I can suggest that it is, perhaps, the most effective catalyst for spiritual growth. Suffering can be fertile soil for our faith to grow – and not just in the sense of increasing, but also in the sense of correcting false ideas and beliefs.
Are you someone who has difficulty in expressing what you want – either to God or to others with whom you are in relationship? Until you experience a faith that believes in God’s goodness and unchanging love, you may remain unable to clearly express what you want or need, producing frustration within you as well as around you.
May your fear be replaced with confidence in God’s love for you, and may that confidence lift your wings to fly toward the desires that have been planted inside your heart! Beyond that, may you grow in all of your relationships in such a way that allows you to express plainly what you need from God and from others, based on a faith in the love that connects us all.