You see, this has been a question God has been asking me a lot lately. "What do you want?" And most of the time my answer is, "I don't know." And when I do decide I want something, how do I know whether this is a desire of my heart according to how I have been made, or merely a product of fear or selfishness?
Regardless, any revelation is only information unless it is transformed into action in one's life. So I decided to start with something small. I want a cat. I've wanted a cat of my own ever since I moved away from home 10 years ago. Somehow, circumstances were always against me, and I kept putting it off. But now, newly determined to chase after this dream, I set to work.
I was actually very surprised at how easily my roommates agreed to this plan. My landlord was not enthusiastic about the idea, but seemed as though she could be convinced. I decided that an adult cat would be best, and scoured craigslist to find a suitable kitty.
Before I knew it, I was driving home with Kitty, complete with her food, toys, and automated self-cleaning litterbox. All free to a good home where kitty would be loved. The owners and I agreed on a one week trial period, since there were a few potential obstacles to Kitty being happy here. The first being this:
Meet Chopper, my roommate's Boston Terrier. He's a cheery little guy who is content as long as he can be around his people. We weren't sure how Kitty would react to him, and at the beginning it was all growls and hisses from her, and whimpering and shaking from him. However, after a while they seemed to become somewhat indifferent to each other. First hurdle passed!
The second trial was that of allergies. Would Kitty prove too allergen-producing for another of my roommates who has a mild cat allergy? After a few days of watching, it seemed she was fine. Second hurdle passed!
The third trial was that of Kitty's consideration of the property. Would she pull up the carpet, scratch the hardwood floors, or pee outside her litterbox? Because that would give her an immediate eviction from the landlord. Once again, Kitty passes with flying colours.
Fourth hurdle is that of the unknown. That which cannot be predicted. Kitty developed an obsession with the outdoors. She meows at both the front and back door when anyone is nearby there, and tries to sneak out at every opportunity. Last night she succeeded and disappeared, frolicking in her freedom for a good two hours before coming back home. This, unfortunately, is a deal-breaker. My house is on a very busy intersection with heavy traffic at all times of day. It wouldn't be long before Kitty's carcass would turn up on the side of the road. So, she shall now be returned to her owners, who will continue to search for a loving home for her.
There was a day where I was getting depressed and thinking that I shouldn't have gone ahead with this idea in the first place, that it was a stupid idea that was doomed to failure, and that I could have saved myself the disappointment if I'd never gotten my hopes up in the first place. But, I felt like God was saying that He could handle my disappointment. That even if things go terribly awry, He still works all those things together for my good. Typically, in this kind of situation I'd try to convince myself that I hadn't really wanted a cat that much in the first place, so it didn't matter if it didn't get to stay. And in denying my disappointment, I'd deny God the chance to comfort and heal in this situation. So I let myself be disappointed. And I gave that disappointment up to my loving Father, and He in turn gave me peace enough to cover the whole situation.
There's another lesson I've taken away from this experience. One night at the kitchen table, Zana asked me, "Why do you love cats so much?" There's all the typical answers one might give that I rattled off - they're clean, cute, independent, fuzzy, companionable - but the question stuck with me over the next few days. In observing Kitty around my roommates, I finally put my finger on the answer. One of the biggest reasons I love cats is because my family loves them too, and growing up that was something we shared together. Anytime the cats did something cute or funny, we'd run to tell each other, and laugh about it together. It brought us closer together, and joy shared is joy magnified.
I have decided to abandon the quest for a kitty at this juncture. Not because of logistics, but because my roommates are just not really into cats. They tolerated Kitty just fine, but in the words of Pastor Steve, "Toleration is a passive form of rejection." It was a little bit painful to me to see Kitty being rejected by my roommates whom I love. My happiness is having Kitty here was only the small happiness of my own self, lacking the magnification of having others to share it with. Kitty has helped me to see that the true origin of my desire for a cat lies in the desire for greater connection with those I share my home with.
I'm glad I had Kitty for this week. I'm glad I took the risk to go for what I wanted, despite the fact that it didn't work out. I learned a lot that I never would have known otherwise. And I think this is just a small object lesson for me, that I can now apply to other areas of my life. I don't want to just take the cautious route of guaranteed success anymore. Perhaps there's no way to find out exactly what I really want until I just go for something that I think I want, and chase it until the things I truly want become clear.
So how about you? What do you really really really want?