What do you really want?

Posted by on January 21, 2011

It was just before Christmas when Diane posted the question on her Facebook page.

“What do you want this year?”

I knew she didn’t mean a new lens for my camera or my favourite indulgence soap

or even some sweet, small trinket.

Diane thinks deeper than that. The question gave me pause.

What did I want? The truth was, I didn’t know. And if I didn’t know, who did?

After Christmas, I settled in to read my new book, Sacred Rhythms. It’s about spiritual transformation. About listening and seeking. Solitude and questioning. The first chapter asked me to name my truest desire. “How bad do you want it?”, the author asked. There it was again.

Can I share something? I’m surrounded by people who regularly ask themselves this question; people who themselves are surrounded by vision boards pasted with pink Cadillacs, beach umbrellas, bestsellers, designer houses and Monopoly money. People who practice the power of intention or visualization. I see most of this as surface stuff….the stuff of distraction.

But, I can count on one knuckle the number of times anyone has looked me straight in the eye and asked me, “What do you really want?”  What is the need below the surface?

True Desire is an elusive thing. It’s not some pretty bauble-du-jour.

So, I sat with my question in the aloneness of the morning –  morning after morning, actually – watching the sunlight slide from the tops of the trees, prodding beneath my answers, sifting through them, like the chickadees sorting through the seeds at the feeder. Looking for the hidden nugget of truth.

And when the answer didn’t come, I walked with the question. Through new fallen snow, along snowshoe tracks, past smooth fields and bristled trees, beneath bruised and smudged skies, the question followed me like my shadow.

Oh, it is easy to say,  “I want to be a successful speaker and author.” But then the question arises…what must you say and where will you send your words? How do you define ‘success’?

“I want to spend more time with friends and family.” Really?  That’s a choice, not a desire.

Or “I want my health.”  If I gave you health, what would you do with it?  Neglect it? Use it? Who would it serve?

Or “I want my grandson close by.” But it’s not enough, just to have him here. If he was, what difference could you make in his life? Is it for him, or is it for you?

This Desire…it’s not an easy thing to name. It’s the need beneath all the questions.

To be seen. To have a voice. To be understood. To live freely and feel joy. To love and be loved.
To know, really know, God.
To make some small or great difference.

Once I know this honest, true Desire, then I know in what direction I must turn my face.
Where to place my next step. It really must be the root of it all, you know.

What do you want? Truly.

13 Valued Thoughts on What do you really want?

  1. Tabor

    It says "wise words" in the comment window…but your words are very wise. We have to admit that this is a very tough question…as tough as taking our next big step. The placement of the photos was nicely done….!

  2. We live in the

    Lovely, thoughtful post with beautiful photographs; I am glad I came across your blog.
    I want to please God. When my eye lids are pulled down at night, I want to be able to say, "God, you and I together have done my best. I had a kind word for that hurting person in the cancer ward, I share a sweet smile with another, I gave so others could have a hot meal, I shared what I had with those who had less." Yes, I often, too frequently fail but it's in the trying I'm successful so, day by day, I keep trying.
    Some days though, I'm just trying -smile-.
    God's blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and heart.

  3. Amy

    Such wise words…

    You know, the older I get, the more I find myself truly meditating on what I want for the year. It's no longer about the "resolutions" … it's something more. And you, my friend, put it into words beautifully…

  4. Wifsie

    When people complain to me about their lives and I ask them "What do you truly want?" almost all of them either evade the question or say 'I don't know'. I admire you for walking with the question and going deep. I want to have and nurture inner peace and joy. And then shine them in the world. Because they are God's true nature.Knowing your deepest desire is the very first step in the journey of inner transformation.
    Wonderful post, Deborah! It radiates light and quiet.

  5. Ladywriter

    Excellent! Very insightful. There are goals, and then there is the meaning behind the goals. What you're really asking is, "what is the meaning of life–your life?"

    Your words remind me of Alexander the Great, who is said to have sat down and cried after he conquered every country in the known world. There was nothing left for him to conquer, and when he died, what he spent his short lifetime building fell apart. His generals divided up his kingdom four ways and continually vied for dominance. "Here lies Ozymandias, King of Kings…"

    What do I really want? To tell the truth as I see it. And, as Ecclesiastes says, to "fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."

  6. Carolynn

    I'm not able to answer that either. I've heard that question posed before and it always stumps me. I'm glad to hear you struggled with it because I've always felt somewhat lacking because I don't have a ready answer. What I REALLY would love is some quiet time away from the hustle & bustle, and responsibility of my life to really give this some serious thought.

    Perhaps, on the other hand, it's our nature, as humans, to never quite 'get there'.

    Blessings,
    Carolynn

  7. Deborah Carr

    Thank you Tabor, I always enjoy your wise words.

    We live in the…what? where? 🙂 There are such oh-sweet moments when everything comes together and we can rest, knowing we 'dun good'. They make all the other days worthwhile.

    Amy, Wilfsie & Carolyn – you're right. It's a hard question to get to the root of, isn't it? But I'm learning that the hardest questions are the most important ones. When I have to dig deep for an answer, I feel cetain there will be shining gold when I finally bring them to light.

  8. Deborah Carr

    Rhonda…I always appreciate your insights,honesty and wit!

  9. Diane

    Deborah, I truly love your thought process and your writing. I am so pleased my question prompted you to ponder it as I had intended. Most simply take it superficially and the thought process doesn't go beyond the baubles and pink cadillacs. Yours is a pondering of the soul.

  10. One Woman's Journey

    I read this several times. Because I am further down the journey of life then most commenting…I will share.
    Being able to return to my simple home at the edge of the woods 18 months ago was a dream come true.
    It is unfolding – a simpler lifestyle. Time to garden, pray, use my camera. Time to be here for my children and grandchildren.
    Last – Gods will for my remaining days, health and wisdom to
    Walk slow, breathe and smile.

  11. NJ

    I just found your blog this morning. I enjoyed reading your posts. I think I’ve been living with this question for many years, with the question worded in various ways but amounting to the same thing. I was fortunate to be raised with the constant reminder to put into every day life what is most important. And yet, it’s a question that has to be asked frequently to make sure I’m on the right track.

    Some days I feel that I’m alone and don’t relate well to most of the people around me. I usually don’t do small talk well. I love to know when I have made a difference in the lives of those around me. I want to serve and please and know God most of all. I appreciate the things you’ve written and I liked reading about your 40 day quest to find answers.

    NJ (Nancy)

  12. Doreen Pendgracs

    What a wonderful post, Deborah! Thanks for pointing me to it.

    I seem to be so busy trying to make headway with my efforts that I rarely have or take the time to ask some of the questions you have raised. Even now … I am hurried. But I will return to your blog again, and be encouraged to dig deeper within my own thoughts for the answers.

    • Deborah Carr

      It’s not an easy task…and one that does take some quiet tie and contemplation. Thanks for dropping by, Doreen. 🙂

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