by Dale Wolery
What do you want? The Christian recovery movement as well as the whole Christian way of life is built on and fueled by wants. I attend church, go to therapy, am regular at group, I journal, I pray, I read, I relate, I tell the truth, and I meditate because I want . . .
I want to be whole.
I want to feel connected and fully loved.
I want to be addiction free.
I want to be spiritual.
I want to be anxiety free.
I want enough means to get to the end of the month.
I want to sleep without those dreams.
I want the haze to dissipate.
I want the pain to go away.
I want life to be easy.
I want her/him to love me for who I am.
I want to feel clean, forgiven, made right.
I want to be close to God.
I want to be wanted.
I want to help.
I want to be adored.
I want to feel safe.
I want to be visible.
I want to be some place other than numb.
I want to be fully alive.
I want to be understood.
I want to matter.
I want people to like me.
I want to feel again.
I just want to be happy.
I want it all.
It’s a good thing to have ‘wants’ – even the obviously complicated ones have roots in legitimate human needs. Imagine how stuck I would be if I wasn’t able to want things to be different! There are, of course, dangers that come with ‘wants.’
Getting It Right
One of the most common dangers we face when we want things is the mistaken idea that we can actually have all of our wants filled if we just “get it right”. If I can be a good enough boy, a nice enough little girl, a mature enough person . . . I will get what I want. If only I can be faithful enough to my program, open enough in my therapy, honest enough in my relationships, disciplined enough before God and sensitive enough in my loving. If I run faster, climb higher, submit more fully, practice harder, pray longer, fast more, sleep less and quit being so driven I could get what I desire. It makes me tired just to write it down on paper.
It is increasingly clear to me that the ‘being something enough’ or ‘doing something enough’ kind of life is a real dead end. It’s a kind of perfectionist ideal that is not within the reasonable range for people like me. For me the perfectionist journey began very early when I was encouraged to become ‘more and more like Jesus’. Sound like a reasonable and biblical goal? Well. . . yes and no.
If I were just like Jesus . . .
Yes, if I were only perfect like Jesus. He was so completely sinless, some even say he could not have sinned. He got it right. He never failed. He wasn’t addicted, co-addicted or dysfunctional. He is the perfect model. And, after all, He did get what he wanted too. He was so good it got Him despised, rejected and executed. I don’t mean to make light but to make a point. The myths of perfectionism are so ingrained that we need strong doses of reality to correct them. Try as you might you will never be perfect like Jesus. Forgiven, failing, trying, needy, progressing and in process is a more sane expectation of ourselves. God’s expectations of us are not that we will be ‘like Jesus’ but that we will be in the process, one-day-at-a-time, of turning our lives (including our ‘wants’) over to God’s loving care. There is no perfectionist root in God’s love – just a grace-full, compassionate, understanding, attentive Creator whose is committed to being actively involved in our lives.
What is true on a personal level is also true on an organizational level. The NACR is not a perfect organization. We find ourselves saying, “We should have.” “If only we could have.” “We shouldn’t have.” But mostly we find ourselves in process. Growing, reemerging, making and finding a place, needing and meeting needs. Finding your responses encouraging. Excited about each new member or donor. We are depending on you even when we feel some shame around not being able to do it bigger, better, faster and for less money in less time. We are not perfect but we are in process. Will you help us in some specific ways on our mutual journeys? Will you invite a friend to join the NACR? Perhaps you could join the growing donor ranks to give our vision a push? No, we are not perfect, but we are worth the investment and we keenly appreciate your doing just that.