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What do you want? May 25, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, Philosophy/Religion.

Whenever I hear the question, “What do you want?” I can’t help but hear Def Leppard singing in my head and I am tempted to answer, “I want rock and roll…you betcha,” in a raspy, 1980’s hair band rock voice. I don’t really want rock and roll, but that is what rings in my mind, which is another reason for parents to monitor and influence their teen’s media exposure. Everything gets stuck in that mental hard drive and comes out at weird times, but I digress.


“What do you want?” is a great question. It is a great question if we can get beyond base gratifications and gender stereotypes. I mean really, if we were honest for a minute or two, then we would all realize that men want more than sex, power tools, and a thick steak. We would also realize that women want more than, well, whatever it is Mel Gibson found out in that less than stellar movie he starred in with Helen Hunt called, What Women Want. When gratification, excitement, and all things cheap and easy are factored out, what do you really, really want? Go away Spice Girls! 

It is my belief that the majority of people do not really know what they want. They know what gratifies them, but they do not know what they want. They know what they are supposed to want, but they do not know what they really want. They know what is marketed to them, what to consume, what will make them cool, what will bring them pleasure, what will catapult them to power, what will make them rich, what will ease their pain and their guilt and their conscience, what will make them forget, what will make them laugh. But what they want? Nah, I don’t think too many people really have this figured out.


C. S. Lewis once said that the problem people have is not that they desire too much, but that they desire too little. So eager to settle for a little gratification here and a little affirmation there, we find that what we want no longer matters, is irrelevant, or is actually satisfied with something small. With so many available ways to perpetuate our shallowness, the depth of genuine want and desire goes largely untapped, unexplored, and unutilized. With no one willing to call us to a depth of want in our lives, how are we ever going to plumb the depths of it on our own?


Government isn’t going to help find what we want. Big business is committed to keeping us shallow and buying things to feel better just long enough to make us believe it worked and just short enough that we will make another purchase. Drugs for depression, anxiety and a host other psychological ailments might give relief, but they do not even touch the question. Philosophy is useful, but is ultimately inadequate to answer the question. Religion makes lots of promises, and might be the way to find what we really want, but show me a religion that humans haven’t commodified, watered down, or made into their own image.


I think what people really want is simple to say and difficult to do. What people really want is to be loved. People want to be fully known to the depths of the identity and loved. We want to be seen for who we really are and loved for being just that. We want to know who we are, what we are here for, and to know that we matter in this gigantic universe.


We might not be able to perfectly engage in this kind of love with so much of the world contaminating this effort, but can at least move in the direction of love. We can be a little more vulnerable with others and respect their vulnerability toward us. We can intentionally find the unique beauty in each person and call it out for what it is. So, do you want to give it a try? 


1. Terri - May 26, 2006

…and I’m tempted to comment, “Long live Rock and Roll”!

2. Donna - May 26, 2006

I too am a Def Lepard fan..

But you are right. All of the other things that we think bring us satisfaction are really attempts to find love….being fully revealed and being loved anyway…..but wait, we have that. We just need to learn to act like it.

3. LW - May 26, 2006

So if I asked for what I wanted would you be willing to give it to me even if it wasn’t reciprocated?

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