Needs and wants
Most of you have heard this - approaching you from the opposite direction - as you roll down the aisles of the grocery store, attempting to make sense of all that bombards you from shelf after shelf after shelf.
There is one child in the 'upper deck', legs dangling through the appropriate bars of the cart, facing a parent who looks frazzled (particularly if other siblings are in tow).
He picks up the pace of his plea, becoming agitated, the heels of his blinking sneakers banging into the rear of the carriage "I need it, I need it, I need it.....ooo,ooo that one....Maaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeee.....I need it!!!"
In the meantime, poor Mommy has already passed the impulse item of the moment and is trying to steer the cart out of harms way - despite the fact that her field of vision is impaired by the toddler who is now draped over her and pointing in the opposite direction.
What in the world does this child need so badly??? Something that has bright packaging or that has been seeping into his consciousness through a TV commercial that plays each and every break during a children's program. The expression of something desirable fits more into the column "wants".
And let's be honest here..... we adults can flip around the term 'need' a great deal: I need a piece of chocolate, a cup of coffee, a new car, a retroactive promotion, a swimming pool.
So perhaps it's time to separate the needs from the wants.
We need the necessities of life: basic shelter, clothing, food, a form of labor, assistance in disease,infirmity, catastrophe. We need to love and be loved. As Christians we need Christ and some form of community - we need to have some sense of purpose and worth. [There are others you are free to add here- but you will have a lively debate with me if you insist that chocolate is a need and a food group unto itself]. We should not "want" for our needs.
While 'need' implies a requirement, 'want' implies desire. Living in the US - or the UK or France or Australia or Canada or Norway, etc. our application of language has become a bit sloppy, hasn't it?
God blesses us with so very much. Hearken back to the image of the megagrocery store - have you ever been struck by the choices and plenty before you??? Good grief!! Choose between twelve brands of toilet paper - the available (and often disposable) abundance could numb the senses.
About this time of year I do some fall inner cleaning to prioritize my needs and my wants - perhaps you might want to do the same.
Individuals and families have returned from their summer vacations and parishes in this and other countries are now starting up their mechanisms for programs, education, stewardship, outreach, liturgy. When it comes to your own spiritual life, be intentional about your needs and your wants..... and make them known. What do you require of your community, your church, its leadership --- and what is on your 'optional' list. Make both known and back it up with a positive investment.
Telling your like-minded neighbor in the back pew that you need to hear a good sermon (for a change) is a 'want'. Taking the time to tell the preacher that you need - for your spiritual life - to be challenged or inspired or educated or uplifted by her/his sermon expresses your need.
Do you need a designated pew spot? Do you want to help the homebound? Take a piece of paper. Make two columns. Separate the needs from the wants. Doing this exercise may be an enlightening, freeing experience.
..... Or you may find that you have to invent a third column for that chocolate.