With Heart Wide Open


“You can’t always get what you want.” I kept hearing this when I was a kid, and I bet you, too, were told this by an adult countless times before in your childhood.

I wonder how you took this statement as a kid. I took this with even more resistance. As we get older, we continue getting told, “You can’t always get what you want” not by other adults around us but by the circumstances around us. It usually comes in the form of thwarted plans, unsuccessful projects and undesirable outcomes — outcomes that are nowhere near our expected results.

Disappointments and frustrations can easily lead us astray and make us lose our focus, distracting us from our true destination. When we’re hurt and disappointed and frustrated, it’s too easy to become sour pusses and bitter and vengeful we’re ready to whack the nearest person just to make him feel our misery.

This feeling, however, can either break us or make us. Bring us farther from our goals, or nearer towards them. Tear us away from God, or bring us closer to Him. The choice is ours.

As an adult, I was told this statement many times, but recently I was told by another adult exactly these words, straight to my face, and I felt like a 3-foot-tall 32-year-old standing in front of him. But you know what, instead of feeling small and frustrated, I understood for the first time what adults mean when they tell us this seemingly debilitating statement — we can’t always get what we want, but we can always have what God wants us to have. All of them.

“We can’t always get what we want, but we can always get what God wants us to have in His time… if we let Him.”

And who is this God? This is the God who is bigger than all our problems and needs combined; the God who loved us even before we were conceived and loves us still; the God who loved us so much He gave us His Son.

Disappointments carry with them powerful messages from a loving Father, and I remember what the priest told me the other Sunday (well, he said it to the crowd but it personally hit me), that we can only do so much. Like the farmer in the parable, we can sow and water the plant and put fertilizers if we like, but how the seed grows we’ll never know. This work does not belong to us — it belongs to God.

The same with our plans and dreams and aspirations. We can only do so much by planning and implementing but at the end of the day, it’ll always be up to God. His plans are always the best.

He may not give us what we asked for in the palms of our hands today, but we can always choose to open our hearts to His overflowing goodness and allow Him to surprise us with His unbounded graciousness and love.

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