During this Thanksgiving week, we’ll surely see a lot of reminders to be thankful for what we have. For many of us, these reminders seem easy to follow. But even if we find it easy to show our gratitude for the blessings we’ve received, it can still be just as easy to fall into some bad habits that prevent us from expressing thanks in the purest way we can. One specific habit that I’ve fallen into without even realizing it is something I call the “All I Want” attitude, and identifying and fighting this habit is helping me develop a deeper sense of gratitude for all the good things in my life.
Since my graduation from college in May of this year, I’ve had to go from part-time job to part-time job while looking for a career in the field of writing. On the whole, I’ve been fine with that; I didn’t expect to get a writing job right away. But every so often, I’ve let myself get frustrated over not having a job that is oriented toward the career path I want to take. I’ve even let this frustration into my prayer. I’ve said things like, “Lord, all I want is a job as a writer. Please, just let me get a good job, and I’ll be happy. Is that too much to ask for?”
This, of course, is where the “All I Want” attitude comes into play. It’s the attitude that comes with wanting something so desperately that you forget you ever wanted anything else. I’m sure everyone has wanted something this badly at some point. At times we want relief from pain, either physical or emotional, perhaps after living with a disease or disorder for a long time or after tragically losing a loved one. At times we want love or acceptance, particularly when we feel loneliest. These are all good, sensible things to desire, but problems arise when we let ourselves think that one of these things is all we want.
For one, the “All I Want” attitude, however justified, goes completely against the gratitude we try to express during this Thanksgiving season. If we feel so unhappy that we want only one thing, we fail to acknowledge the good things we already have. After all, no matter where we are in life, we have at least a few things to be thankful for—the gift of life, God’s love for us, Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, and so on.
The “All I Want” attitude tricks us into ignoring the gifts we already have, distancing us from God. In addition, this attitude distracts us from all the other things we really want, most prominently a relationship with the Lord. Deep within our souls, we all desire a deep relationship with our Creator, and to tell ourselves that we exclusively want something other than that is, frankly, misguided and self-destructive. Even if what we want is truly good for us and the people around us, it won’t truly satisfy us unless it’s tied to our pursuit of the Lord.
This Thanksgiving, I’m going to try to remember not only the things the Lord has already given me, but the things I truly want. If I fall into the “All I Want” attitude about my career path or something else, I’ll remember that there’s nothing I truly want more than the Lord. I pray that all of us will do the same!