- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On November 11, 2016
- 36 Comments
What I want and what I need
Why is there always a rift between you?
Why be so diametric to each other?
Why can’t you sort yourselves out?
Why not reach a compromise?
How difficult can that really be?
I know your contentions are intrinsic
Stemming from the flesh-spirit dichotomy
But your tussles are making me schizophrenic
I feel like I’m about to lose my mind
I’ll find a way out, yes, I will
I can’t have you two tearing me apart
If I could only give up one of you
Make the right choice and stick with it
I’d have the peace I crave and deserve
But knowing myself, a pipe dream that is
Still, something definitely’s got to give
Your endless bickering needs to cease
What I need, durability is on your side
Plus you’re sure to bless me more
So you stay on top and call the shots
What I want, you make me feel good
Open my mind to endless possibilities
I’ll fly with you whenever life seems drab
Told you we could work this out
An accord it is and you better behave
What I want, my fanciful genius
What I need, my pragmatic faithful
With two of you it’s a win-win ride
As I journey along on my pilgrimage
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2016
Hope you enjoyed reading this poem and that you identify somewhat with its theme. As is my custom, I’d like to briefly elucidate on it. But let me say first off that this is not a Bible lesson or doctrinal manual on how to resolve flesh-spirit conflicts. This is what works for me. Now let me take it from the top as those in the performing arts would say.
I find that, sometimes, what I want is not what I need. I said sometimes, praise God, because in spite of my human weaknesses and limited vision, there are times my body and my spirit are in agreement, otherwise I’d have destroyed myself long ago. For instance, when I’ve worked too hard, everything within me starts screaming, “You need to stop now. You need to rest!” But those moments of harmony are not the subject of this poem.
What I want is shaped by the kind of person I am; the environment I’ve grown up in; what I’ve been exposed to in my interactions with others, through the media, etc. What I want may, therefore, be informed by vanity and other sentiments. It may arise from aspirations that I consider legitimate or deserving but which are contrary to what God wants for me now. It is a flesh thing.
What I need, on the other hand, is accurate in pinpointing what will work best for me and help me in the programme of God for my life. It may not appeal to my sense of pride (or dignity if you will), it may not make me happy and it may not meet public approval. It is a spirit thing. It is the will of God for my life.
I know that other people have these contentions too and sometimes, they can get quite intense, especially when the great issues of life come up, e.g. career choice, marriage and call into ministry. This is more so when we have deeply entrenched desires that are dissonant from what God is pointing to. The plan of God is that as we renew our minds with His word and eschew negative influences, as we learn to be led by His Spirit (which makes no meaning except we are submitting to His leading), there will be greater congruence between what we want and what we need. This is what Phillipians 2:13 is talking about.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (King James Version).
For a better understanding, let’s see this in some newer translations.
“God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes” (Common English Bible).
“because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose” (Good News Translation).
“because God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him” (New Century Version).
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (New Living Translation).
Praise God, He is working! And I’m becoming more conformed to His will. I hope you are too.
Yet for me as a writer, what I want can be a rich source of inspiration. As an individual, it can show me diverse sides of a matter. While exploring it, I do need to have enough presence of mind, though, to ensure I don’t get carried away and when a decision needs to be made, that I don’t let “my fanciful genius” obscure my vision of what ought to be done.
Let me illustrate with the two versions of the illustration I prepared for this post. The featured image is “what I need”. The other one is “what I want”. Look at how flashy it is, how dazzling with an array of colours! It’s very pretty, isn’t it? But I realise that as stunning as it looks, it does not convey the message quite as well as the featured image. The mutedness of the colours on that one and the white text ensure that even those who are reading with phones get the message without straining their eyes. While I love beautiful graphics, my chief concern is the message and anything that enhances its reception is preferred.
You might wanna take a cue from that. Whenever there’s a divergence between what you want and what you need, go for what you need. It will serve you better. Except of course you’re looking for a temporary high that once gravity comes into play, you’ll find yourself plummeting to much regret. Thank you for taking the time to read this through and be richly blessed of the Lord in Jesus’ name.
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