What A Girl Wants
By Susana De A.
Two years ago I was sitting in a parish hall on a hot, muggy Filipino morning. I was in a very bad mood. We had a bunch of girls living with us in our mission apartment for three weeks. Sleeping on the floor + over-friendly mouse in the house + random giant cockroaches + overheated bedroom + giggly girls who stayed up too late talking = 1 extremely grumpy Susanna. Not to mention, the person who had told us to be there for the weekend conference hadn’t mentioned that it was to be completely in Visaya… which still sounded like gibberish to us!
As I sat there feeling resentful and homesick, I began to sketch on a blank sheet of paper. I kept feeling irrationally guilty because I felt like I was back in school ignoring the teacher, and if I just focussed hard enough, I would somehow absorb the meaning of all the long speeches.
This is the picture I drew that day.
All my homesickness rose to the surface. I wanted home, comfort, family, familiarity. I wanted MY little nieces, not the babies from other people’s families. I wanted to be there as my little goddaughter began to walk and talk and grow fond of people. I wanted the ease and rhythm of hanging out with my people—dancing with my cousin at our regular jive parties. I wanted someone to look after me and hug me and love me. I wanted to get OUT of my rut and do something crazy… stand on my head. And that day I desperately imagined a clean bed, not just a mattress or a thin mat, with fresh cool sheets, in a quiet room and most importantly with NO MICE OR COCKROACHES in the vicinity!
I wanted, wanted, wanted! I was past the honeymoon stage of my mission, and I was NOT satisfied. I retreated to the dream world of my imagination, where everything was better, and I wouldn’t have to deal with the present moment.
The next morning I went to the Lord in prayer. I’m thankful that both the community I grew up with and FMC insist on daily personal prayer. I opened my bible to read the Mass readings of that day… and started laughing.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Very funny, Lord!
So what was he saying? I DID want. I wanted everything else but Him. C.S. Lewis once wrote “All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—(is) the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
I think He was reminding me of the truth—He was enough. He wanted me to redirect my longing to Him, and He would satisfy me. My daydreams and imagination would never satisfy that hunger. Sometime last year I wrote in my journal, “I’ve wasted so much of my life living in illusions—books, movies, sleeping, dreaming, and fantasizing about weddings and babies. What was I doing with the precious present I had been given? Wasted it dreaming about the future.
Here (in mission) I am blessed because we have such a few escapes from reality—no TV, no movies, hardly any books, no Internet at home…
… Reality is the Lord. And reality is not hiding behind family or friends or books or movies or dreams. Reality is learning how to love. Reality is seeing the people around me through the eyes of God and loving them with His love. Reality is accepting suffering out of love, and not trying to avoid it. Reality is seeing all the ways the Lord is constantly trying to love me, and accepting them joyfully.”
If the Lord really is my Shepherd, I shall NOT want. It is only in the circumstances of the present moment that I can choose to meet Him, and be loved and satisfied by Him. But that means giving up the daydreams and embracing the reality of the ‘now’. Mother Teresa said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not yet here. We have only today. Let us begin.”