you can’t always get what you want…
i don’t often encounter an opportunity to quote the rolling stones and c.s. lewis at the same time, but the stones’ lyrics have been running through my head for the last few months and lewis always has a way of injecting Truth into my perspective.
i recently arrived at the revelation that almost all of my moments of misery in recent years have stemmed from the same source: a desire for something i can’t have. i’m not talking about wishing for material things or a more adventurous life or exceptional talents–while those feelings do arise from time to time, they never stick around long enough to make me discontent. i either decide to work for those wants, or determine they’re not worth sacrificing what i already have.
no, what i’m referring to is a longing for something that is an absolute, definite impossibility. i want a future that will never be. one in which my child(ren) and my mom have the kind of special relationship i had with my mother’s mother. one where i can seek my mom’s advice on everything from fashion and decor to parenting and leadership. a future where she and dad grow old together, and live out the dreams and plans they began building in their teens.
when we lost mom, i assumed that i would go through life missing her and occasionally (or frequently) feeling sad that she was taken from us way too soon. eventually i reached the point where i could accept and acknowledge those emotions as they came and continue to function “normally.” but this mindset of allowing (not suppressing) those moments started to seep out at the edges. all of a sudden, i had given myself permission to entertain extended bouts of gloominess from dwelling on the unfairness of being stripped of “what could have (should have) been.”
recognizing this (and facing it) has been transformational in both my daily mood and long-term healing process. now i see that this attitude of regret has been holding me back from embracing my actual future. not that i won’t still have moments that beg for her presence and stir up thoughts of what-if, but i’m done craning my neck to wistfully lookey-loo at the alternate reality i wish were true. i want to look backward with deep gratitude for the treasured memories and forward with anticipation and appreciation for the good things that continue to come our way. because good things are happening.
on new year’s eve, my father married a wonderful woman in a special and celebratory event. for many reasons i don’t have time to enumerate here, it seems evident that God brought them together. loosening my grip on the what-if mentality has allowed me to see that this new relationship is absolutely the right step for my dad, and our family. when they sealed their vows with a kiss at midnight, the happiness i felt was full, genuine, and free of the reserved and awkward and melancholy feelings i had been battling for months. (okay, it was a little awkward to see my father kiss another woman, but, ya know, baby steps.)
now, you’ll probably never convince me that the version of the future without my mom could ever be as ideal as the version with her in it, but given the available options, i want to choose to celebrate the best possible revision of our story. i can see God rewriting the pages into something joyful and restorative.
…but if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need.