Wish or Want?

by Timothy Vowell

goals-2It seems impossible for me to learn the difference between what people “wish” and what they “want”.  I am always jumping to conclusions about what people “want” not realizing that so many people are just simply expressing a “wish” in “want” terms. I don’t know if anyone else out there has this problem, but if you do you know it can cause you endless stress in relationships.

It seems to make people feel better to say, “I want to do this” instead of “I wish I would do this”. And like a silly fool I find myself jumping at the expression that they “want” to do it and find out later in the game…I am only working on someone’s wish list. Now that a terrible place to be! It’s terrible because before it’s over with, you are going to be the one working on the list the most, the one with the most frustration, and probably the one most misunderstood. You see for them its just a “wish” and they will do it when they get time or if they feel like it or if nothing else comes up or if their favorite Television show isn’t on, or if their wife lets them or…or…and the list of “wish obstacles” is endless.

For instances, I recently heard some folks say they wanted to study a book of the Bible. I thought, “That’s a cool idea I have always wanted to study that book of the Bible with friends”. And like any other person, I enjoy hanging with good company; I enjoy studying with others, so naturally I asked if they wanted to study together. After they assured me that they “wished” they could, we set up a discussion board to dialogue about what we found in the text, share ideas, and just get together over this book of the Bible. We all agreed it would be “cool” and we “wanted” to do it and a month later and we had only gotten through the first chapter. Now, either we were theologians that were really digging into this book of the Bible (which we weren’t) or something totally different was going on here.  As I write this, the last active post was made so long ago I couldn’t tell you, because honestly, I quit the board in frustration.

There was something wrong with our discussion board. Either the folks on it wanted to study alone and or they didn’t want to study with me or they wanted to do something different, like maybe read this book of the Bible instead of digging as deep as the forum dug. Maybe they didn’t want to hear the opinions of others. Maybe they didn’t want accountability in studying the Word. Maybe they wanted to go real slow and I was pushing or expecting too much. Or maybe there was something going on that happens all the time with people. Maybe they mixed up a “wish” with a “want”. Perhaps they really didn’t “want” to study it in the first place. Maybe it was just a “wish”.

You might be saying, “Maybe they didn’t have the time.” And that brings me to my point. We make time for “wants” but not for “wishes”.   The things we really want to do we will carve out time to do it. It happens every day, all the time. There are few people that only do things they have to do. Most of us work into every day or every week, along with all our responsibilities, plenty of things we “want” to do. The problem is that we often express our “wishes” in “want” terminology and we not only fool those around us but we fool ourselves. What determines a “wish” from a “want” is the time you spend on making it happen.   Wishes are the things we think about doing…things we may start and drop…but wants are the things we pursue…the things we make happen.

You see I found myself on someone’s wish list when it came to studying this book of the Bible and I do it often. I hate being in that place, because I hate the way it makes me feel about them, and the way it makes me feel about myself. But this experience has taught me a lesson beyond not jumping at a “wish” thinking it’s a “want”. Honestly, I don’t know that I will ever learn that one. LOL.

I have reflected on a different lesson. What are the things I say I really “want” but end up on some “never will really get it done” wish list? I really need to know this if only for the fact that life is far too short for me to waste time on wishing, when I could be working on the things I really want.