Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What Do You Really Want?

She was wearing a tight black skirt and loose turtle neck with a gold medallion around her neck. Her makeup, though thickly applied, was perfect. Her heels clicked against the floor as she strode through the café, shaking her long shag of neatly coifed hair once down her back. John noticed my reaction and smirked into his coffee.

“You and every other schmuck.”

I heard his voice faintly, but gathered enough wits to glance at the other men around the tables. He was right. Surreptitious glances followed the woman as she ordered and even as she waited at the bar for her latte.

“You’ll never get her. She’s out of your league.” He said, this time with a chuckle.

“What are you talking about?” I said.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Do I look like an idiot?” He said. “Money, Burns. You’ve got to have money for that.”

I bent back to my keyboard, and didn’t respond. He was right. What woman like that would be interested in a man like me? A man who worked with disabled children and made less than forty thousand a year, a man who thought that the hopes and dreams of people were more important than financial success, a man who firmly believed that understanding God loved His children was the key to understanding life. What chance did a guy like me have with a woman like that?

“Yeah. You’re right.” I said.

But my gaze followed the woman as she left the café. It was hard not to want that in a significant other, hard not to be attracted to such a beautiful prize.

“She isn’t for you, anyway, Steve. She’d just drive you crazy with her demands.” John said, scratching his goatee.

I nodded again, only this time I wasn’t sure if it was out of understanding or despair. I’d been single for a long time. Seeing a woman like that made your heart stick inside your throat. Maybe it was cultural; maybe the modern version of what made a woman appealing had arrested my heart. But it was still difficult.

John studied me from across the table.

“C’mon man, what do you really want? Do you really want a high maintenance chick like that?”
I almost told him off. Easy for him to say. He was happy with his girlfriend. But me, well, I’d been down this path so many times before, so many times every new relationship had begun to bleed somehow into all the rest, and lately, well, lately I hadn’t really wanted to even look at a new relationship.

My hope, I think, bordered somewhere between reality and fantasy. The only problem was that I never bothered to answer the important question. What did I want? Not just from a woman, but from life? What were my hopes? My dreams?

It was odd, but as I sipped my coffee, I realize that most of us have a hard time these days seeing that end goal. We have a hard time seeing our dreams as something attainable. Something real. Maybe we don’t think that God can deliver. Maybe we think that God has disappointed us so many times before that it’s pointless to dream about what we really want. Or maybe we’re just so lonely that we’ll settle for someone, anyone, to validate our existence. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was right.

I didn’t want to settle. And while I wanted a woman I thought to be attractive, I desperately wanted a woman who loved God, a woman who believed in people, someone who believed that a life without compassion was a life not worth living. It was the oddest thing. The more I thought about what I really wanted, the more the beautiful girl began to fade from my memory.
We all want things. We all want better houses and cars and relationships. But maybe God is asking us what we really want. What is our deepest desire? It strikes me that our world is full of quick solutions, but rarely gives us fulfillment. Perhaps we should look more at those things we have pursued (for some of us, since the time we were children) and instead of selling out to what the world offers, standing back and waiting.

Maybe then God will give us our heart’s desire. Maybe then, we’ll understand why we’re really here…