When Our Want To Doesn’t Want To

When our five girls were growing up, I sometimes tried to be a polite mother rather than a demanding one. After all, I am a seasoned southern girl. 🙂  Instead of telling a specific daughter to do something, I would say:

  • “Mary Beth, would you like to run the vacuum?                                                       
  • “Lollie, would you like to clean your room?”                                                                  
  • “Millie, would you like to polish the silver?”                                                                             
  • “Katie, would you like to set the table?”                                                                       
  •  “Lisa, would you like to make the salad?”

I even complemented each one on her being the best at her specific task. At the time, I didn’t think of myself as conniving and manipulative. But now I wonder. Since then, the girls have kiddingly questioned my tactics. “Mom, why did you do that? Of course, I didn’t want to polish the silver.”

To their credit, they usually did their jobs without complaining. And out of respect, they didn’t confront me until they were adults. Perhaps my plan worked, after all. No doubt about it. Their want to didn’t want to do what their mother asked them to do. But they did it, anyway.

Does your want to sometimes not want to? Mine does. And it’s a dilemma. What if I don’t want to get out of bed? What if I toss and turn, rather than give in and get up? What if I choose to be lazy, rather than pursue the difficult? What if I settle for mediocrity, rather than aim for excellence? What if I choose easy, rather than face my limitations? What if I’m content with the status quo, rather than challenged by the unknowns?

You may be thinking no one is that stubborn. Not true. Sadly, this describes my present state of mind.  And I seem to have positioned my want to on a slippery slope.

I share my dilemma with you from the recesses of my own need. Do you ever suffer from paralysis of the will? If so, what can you and I do when our want to doesn’t want to?

It seems we can do one of two things. We can either pamper our want to, or we can put it in its place. Last week, I indulged my want to by being lazy and undisciplined. This eventually led to complacency, a false contentment. I must have enjoyed my misery, or why didn’t I do something about it?

Instead, I stuffed my need to shake the dust off my psyche and set things right with God and myself. I wonder if you ever get so complacent you don’t want to exert the energy to do anything.  And yet, in my heart, I know this. As much as we’d like to stand still and let the world go by, we can’t.

Webster defines life as “the quality by which living organisms are distinguished from dead organisms, as shown in the ability to grow . . . respond to stimuli and reproduce.”  Guess what, my friend. Life is motion and if we’re not stepping forward, we’re sliding backward.

What can we do in order to put our want to in its place?  

  • First, we choose whether we want to regress or progress spiritually and experientially.
  • Then, we place our want to in subjection to our will, rather than our feelings.
  • Next, by faith, we make better choices by acting upon biblical truth.
  • Through prayer, we position ourselves to climb up and out of our funk.
  • By faith, we embrace and maintain the freedom to grow, respond and reproduce.

What happens when we progress spiritually?

  • We will renew our strength, soar like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
  • We will grow without toiling or spinning. Mattthew 6:28 
  • We will grow God’s way. I Corinthians 3:6
  • We will grow in grace and knowledge. II Peter 3:18
  • We will live worthy lives, pleasing God and bearing fruit. Colossians 1:10
  • We will grow in our faith as we love one another. II Thess. 1:3
  • We will grow as a body as we each do our part. Ephephesians 4:16
  • As a body, God will cause our growth under the headship of Christ. Colossians 2:19

Has this made sense to you at all? If so, leave a comment on how you deal with paralysis of the will. I need all the help I can get. Meanwhile, I need to begin by taking my own advice, don’t I?  🙂

6 Responses to “When Our Want To Doesn’t Want To”
  1. What a great, meaty post, Liz! I’m with you — my “want” doesn’t “want to” all that often. I guess we’ll always be battling the flesh, huh? Makes me excited to get my glorified body!

    Can’t wait for Wednesday’s nuggets 🙂
    Hugs from VA!

  2. Millie says:

    Really good stuff, Mom! Thanks for sharing so vulnerably! All I know to do when my will power seems lacking, is at least PRAY for the want to to want to! But you did instill a valuable lesson: sometimes, even with the Lord, I need to choose to obey regardless of what I want! I’m grateful for all the polished silver that taught me obedience! 🙂

    • And I’m grateful for you, special middle daughter! You’ve allowed the Lord to mold you and your “strong will” into His uniquely capable and faithful servant. Love you, Mom

  3. Mary Beth Welsh says:

    Yet again your vulnerability teaches us all. I often find my want doesn’t want to whether it is spiritually, physically, or professionally. As you said, it is when faith has to take over and I take that step whether I want to or not and once in motion the Lord’s will (or wind 🙂 ) has a much better time of guiding. I love you and I am grateful that Millie became such a good polisher. 🙂

    • And you, dear oldest daughter, are the responsible one! I guess that proves we all need God’s grace personified, don’t we? Love and appreciate you so much and I treasure all those times you obeyed God whether your want to wanted to or not. 🙂

  4. I don’t have an answer for you as I have been in that mode for awhile myself!! I love the verse “wait on the Lord and he will direct your path. I know I am not to worry about it either! My silver service is almost black! Wish one of your girls would come polish it for me. Why rush as I have no reason to use it but what a chore if I don’t do it soon and wrap it up!!!s Tomorrow Scarlett!! Maybe God is trying to tell us something. Spend more time with him and everything else will fall in line! If you FIND THE ANSWER LET ME KNOW!! Harriet

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