Years ago, musician Audrey Assad[1] released “I Shall Not Want” on an album called Fortunate Fall. She had discovered a Litany of Humility and set it to music. At a concert she did in my home church, she told us that she wrote it so that she would be inspired to pray it more often. That has worked for me, and the chorus has become a measure of my spiritual health: “When I taste your goodness, I shall not want.”

We live in a world that fuels my want with gasoline. The economy depends on more spending. Advertisements prey on (our) insufficiency. Social media encourages comparison. Want has become a material state of being. And my soul follows along.

I know deep in myself that living in want drives perpetual dissatisfaction. Still, I try to satiate the wanting as a first response.

The verses deliver a litany of spiritual wants that undo me:
the love of comfort,
the fear of having nothing,
a life of worldly passions,
the need to be understood and accepted,
the fear of being lonely,
the fear of serving others,
the fear of death or trial,
the fear of humility.

The unlikely anecdote to want is to accept not having the thing we long for. To allow ourselves to be held and loved precisely where the want is not gratified. I can practice this denial materially by not buying another thing I do not need, and the lesson is only internalized when practiced spiritually too.

Every time I pull out my phone on a walk outside to satiate my boredom, I miss the gifts in the silence and the sky. My worship of my own comfort ultimately makes me restless. My fear of being misunderstood ironically prevents me from living with the authenticity of who I am. My fear of becoming subservient limits my ability to be a gift through selfless service and fuels resentment instead of joy.

No product can save me from the vulnerability of humility. There is no self-help strategy that will ultimately save me from hardship and death in this life. No strategy will ever make everyone happy with me all the time. My longing for these things is not only unrealistic, but destined to result in discontent.

There is this deep well of abundance that runs through creation. Every morning the sun rises and every evening it sets often with spectacular beauty, if I show up to notice it.

I can show up to notice the beauty of my own longings, in the same way I notice the rhythms of nature. I am not in control of the snow or the rain. My preferences have no impact at all on the weather. And it teaches me about the perfection of my powerlessness. It is possible to rest with content in all seasons.

When the snow flies, I can practice gratitude for the ache of my muscles lifting the shovel. I can enjoy the smell of the rain and sit on the porch in the sunshine.

Likewise, I can pour tea into my favourite mug and make peace with the reality that other people’s opinions of my are not my business. It is possible to apologize for an error and forgive myself without days of harsh and critical self-talk. I can be lonely and also okay. I can notice my want for things to be different than they are without trying to force them to be so.

I have this long list of questions for God in eternity, a reckoning that I hope will settle my restlessness. I hear God’s laughter and join in with my own. There will be some answers, I know, and so many more questions.

Human want is a function of our creation for the divine, the eternal spark that lives inside our mortality. I want more because I was made for all the expansiveness of the universe. Contentment comes with receiving right now as gift.

Oh let me taste goodness, so I shall not want for anything more than the miracle of what is.

[1] Assad has since left Christianity, and her music continues to be a source of inspiration for my spiritual life.

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