Gratitober · Journals · Lifestyle

Gratitober: Entry 16

16. I’m grateful to not get what I want.

If that’s not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard, tell me what it is. Who is grateful to not get what they want? How is that even possible? I’m writing this down because from today onward this statement is going to be true.

As a kid, I used to throw tantrums when I wouldn’t get what I want. Mind you, this phase did not last very long, (thanks to the very effective measures of Caribbean discipline) but I would literally lie on my belly, kicking my arms and legs as I screamed in protest. But I grew out of it and over the years there have been times I had to accept that I could not have certain things right when I wanted them.

I’ve seen adults revert back into childish ways when they don’t get what they want. I’ve also seen them get overwhelmed with disappointment and discouragement. Have you ever applied for a university or college program only to find out that your high school grades weren’t high enough? Have you ever thought a relationship was going well, only to have it suddenly fall apart? Have you ever worked hard for a job but didn’t get past probation? The reality is, there are times when we don’t handle our disappointment well. In worst cases, it affects us for years. We can carry disappointment around like an anchor, as if holding on is going to make our disappointment more justified.

Eventually we have to drop the burden and let it go. When we are denied what we want or hope for, we learn. We learn the value of patience. We learn how to submit, recognizing that we are not in control of everything. We learn how to let go, and go with the flow. Roll with the punches. We gain wisdom and insight. We start to see all of the reasons why it was good that we didn’t get that thing.

It’s a very strange concept to wrap my head around, and even as I write I’m still trying to figure out what this really looks like. I know there is value in being denied the things we want. It is good not to have instant gratification all the time. But that’s the culture we live in. The limit to our patience has reduced significantly because of the instant gratification we are conditioned to expect from social media and technology. We bring this into other areas of our lives. When we want things, we want them immediately, and if we don’t get it, we get angry or frustrated. That’s not good.

Instant gratification does nothing for us but make us greedy for more, and impatient. There is so much more value in waiting and working towards something. How much more rewarding it is to know you’ve patiently worked through challenges and trials to finally get to that point of accomplishment! It’s indescribable how much better that experience is. Ask any couple who has been married for a decade or more. They’ll tell you about the struggles they worked through, but they’ll also talk about the constant peace and joy within them because they persevered and were patient with each other.

So, I’m grateful that I have to wait for things. I’m grateful to learn what it means to have my patience tested, surrendering my will and my timing to God’s. I’m grateful that from today onward, this truth is going to push through whenever I feel the opposite way.

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