My latest Catholic Match post is on the all-important question of “do you really want what you say you want?”
I think a lot of the things we claim to want are in this category.
We say we like the outdoors, or that we would like to travel, or that we want a relationship. We may even make some easy, halfhearted efforts in that direction, such as reading up on foreign places or making up a profile on CatholicMatch. But we go no further.
We never book a flight or work out a way to budget for the trip. We don’t make overtures to people we find or respond to those we receive. We play with the idea, but we never commit to it.
But to truly desire something is different. That is when you want the thing itself, for its own sake. We think of it often and give our time and attention to figuring out how to achieve it. We’re excited by every small step that leads us that much closer to its accomplishment.
This is when the wish goes beyond a pleasing fantasy to become a real motivating force. It becomes, as it were, incarnate in action.
For instance, a man who says he ‘would like’ to travel to Japan might spend time reading up on the country, or enjoy relics of Japanese culture, but he won’t go any further.
He ‘wants’ to go to Japan in the same sense that he ‘wants’ to be a millionaire; it is a pleasant fantasy that conceivably could happen at some point. But the man who truly desires to see the Land of the Rising Sun won’t just stop at speculation; he’ll figure out the cost of the trip and carefully budget for it, spend time every day learning the language, and book a flight months in advance so that he’s fully committed to the journey. His desire takes on form by driving him to real and ongoing effort to achieve it.
In other words, you may judge whether you really want something by what you do to acquire it, and what you really desire is shown by what you in fact do.
Now, if you will here stop and honestly ask yourself what your real actions say about your desires, most likely you will find that they are not at all what you would have thought or wanted them to be. Most of us will probably find that watching funny videos on YouTube or engaging in meaningless chatter on social media hold a higher priority with us than serving God or pursuing what we describe as our dreams.