Dear Gracie…

How do I stop desiring what I don’t have?

Sarah Condon / 8.31.21

In the upcoming issue of The Mockingbird magazine, we’re debuting a new advice column. Below, read a sample from the Money Issue.

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Dear Gracie,

Objectively speaking, I have a pretty good life. But I always want to be somewhere that I’m not. I want a different, better job. I want a different, better house, in a different, better place. I want more MONEY. But I know I would be happier if I didn’t want those things.

You know, I don’t want to want these things. I want to be satisfied with my life. How do I stop desiring what I don’t have?

Signed,

Longing for More …

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Dear Longing,

Same, girl. Every time I see anyone in my life getting a promotion, I think, “Why didn’t I get that job?” And that job could be manager at Panera or the Queen of Pop. Doesn’t matter. It also does not matter if I am qualified for that job or not — I think I deserve it. Which I believe is what we call sin.

© Patty Carroll

I just always assume everyone else is somehow happier with their circumstances than I am, which can lead to despair.

There is research that suggests satisfaction is a by-product of age. So maybe do not be so hard on yourself if you are anywhere south of 60 and thinking this way? Because I think we all are. You cannot shame yourself into being a happier person. I’ve tried, and it just leads to a lot of ice cream consumption.

And in so many ways, your longing is actually really Christian. This world is a brutal place, filled with violence, tyranny, and white suburban moms who think they deserve all the job offers. We all long for something better than this world, because even at its best, it is still so broken, because we are so broken.

Ultimately, we long to be beloved. The noise inside of ourselves can confuse that desire with a desire for worldly satisfaction.

And honestly, I have no advice to offer. Only the consolation that you are in the company of like-minded sinners. All I know is that we can trust that Jesus is for us. And that our desires are not always trustworthy. And that maybe everyone is actually struggling as much as we are. Even, perhaps especially, Britney Spears.

For more good advice that’s not advice, subscribe to The Mockingbird magazine. And if you’d like to seek out the wisdom of Gracie, email magazine@mbird.com; all submissions are kept in confidence.