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Wanting What I Get

October 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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The Way of Perfection (Week 8 of 10)

Thou knowest us, my Lord, and Thou knowest that we are not as resigned as wert Thou to the will of Thy Father; we needed, therefore, to be taught to ask for particular things so that we should stop for a moment to think if what we ask of Thee is good for us, and if it is not, should not ask for it. For, being what we are and having our free will, if we do not receive what we ask for, we shall not accept what the Lord gives us. The gift might be the best one possible – but we never think we are rich unless we actually see money in our hands.

The Way of Perfection, Chapter 30, Paragraph 3

Wanting What I Get

I was about 11 when a friend of the family gave me a book-sized box for Christmas. When I unwrapped it, I found the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit in a boxed set.

To say I was underwhelmed might be an understatement; I think I tossed it on the table and stomped out of the room.

About a year later, I found those books completely untouched on my shelf. I was at a new school, in a new situation, and facing all sorts of new drama in my 12-year-old life. I started reading them because I could; I had nothing else to read.

It wasn't very many pages before I was whipping through them, longing for class to be done so I could sneak in a few moments of reading. Tolkien owned me, and I still remember the feeling of my brain expanding a bit as I read the tales of Bilbo and Frodo and Middle Earth.

At the time, I didn't appreciate what a gift I had been given. Today, nearly 25 years later, those books are well-loved. They've been read by me more than once, by my husband, and even started by my nine-year-old (who gave up but will, I think, be revisiting them). The paperback covers are torn and bent, the box that held them is ragged, and the binding may give way at any moment.

I wouldn't trade those books for new leatherbound copies for anything, though.

Isn't that just the way we are? One minute, we're bemoaning the fate we have, the lot we're tossed, the cards we're dealt. Doesn't God love me? Isn't he paying attention? What must he be thinking?

And then, with a little time and a little (or a lot of) distance, we gain perspective. Suddenly we recognize that that which was not “gift” at first was the best possible blessing we could have received.

As usual, St. Teresa points out what should be obvious, which I'm so often blind to. God gives me what's best, and yet I shun it, turn away, even go so far as to complain about it! God loves me more than I can imagine, and he wants what's best for me. And yet, just like the petulant 11-year-old I once was, I'll toss the gift away and not appreciate it until much later.

Here's hoping that the wisdom tucked in the pages and paragraphs of this book help me to change my attitude and approach!

Reading Assignment:

Chapters 33-36

NOTE: Two weeks until we begin our next book!  If you've ever wanted to know more about the foundation for all Christian virtue, be sure to join us for The Four Cardinal Virtues by Josef Pieper.  We'll begin reading on November 11, so plan ahead!!!

Discussion Questions:

1. When have you found yourself ungrateful for something that you later learned was for the best?

2. How can you cultivate an attitude of gratefulness and thanksgiving toward God?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!


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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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