You Can't Always Get What You Want

Written by Riley McEacharn

I distinctly remember being in youth at Dunn Church of God (along with 5 other students) and hearing, "Kids! If you just pray, God will give you what you ask for."

Twelve years later, I realize that message may be told to children to instill hope, but somewhere along the way it becomes more of a fairy-tale than a promise. Of course, I know I serve a God who wants to pour out blessings and see His children with joy, but I'm no longer under the delusion that joy is directly correlated with getting everything that I want and desire. After all, the Rolling Stones said it best (my step-dad would constantly remind me in musical fashion),

"You. Can't. Always. Get. What You Waaant.

But if you try sometime.
You might find.


At eighteen years old, my mother changed. A lot. She went from a woman full of hope and dreams, a mother to five very dramatic children, taking in any extra children that needed a stable home, conqueror of the world, my hero ... to a woman defeated by divorce, gossip, lies of the enemy and in search of affirmation through absolutely any temporary avenue available. She didn't enjoy the same things she once enjoyed. She was different. Life was very different.

That is the best and most polite way I can express this experience. It was definitely one of the most traumatic experiences as a child I had gone through. To some this may not seem traumatic, but my mother was my world. My constant. I was just a teenager who went to church to see boys and friends. I wasn't a girl who had a relationship with Christ. My mom was that rock for me. A rock I thought would never move with solid enough foundation for me to rest on for the entirety of my life. Sure, I knew some day she would pass away, but by then she would have taught me all there was to know about being a wife, mother, and friend. By then, it would be her time to leave me. By then, I would be ready for the change.

I was never expecting my foundation to move.

I spent the next four years, like any other good Christian girl, praying for my mom to return to the person she used to be, while simultaneously judging her every. single. move. The first two and half years of those prayers were intertwined with being lost myself. Even after truly giving my life to Christ at twenty years old, the understanding and compassion that I could extend only reached my friendships, not my relationship with my mother. She was supposed to know better right? I never even considered that God wanted me to show my mom different. Show her hope. Show her love. Show her compassion. Just show her Jesus. So, I did the only thing I knew to do, I just kept praying. In fact, I had my entire church praying. The older, more experienced men and women of prayer, would come up to me almost every service with my encouraging word for the week. Only one really stood out:

"Now, Riley! God wants you to CLAIM your mothers healing. Go ahead and start speaking her healing into existence. Repeat after me: Thank you God, for healing my mom.” I would then repeat, "Thank you, God for healing my mom!"

Those words find a way to still haunt me at times today. Each time I would find myself complaining I was so convicted for not having enough faith. I thought, "this must be the key ingredient I have been missing. If I pray it this way, leaving out my disappointment, then she will change. Everything will be right again." I knew I had to be praying in some wrong way. After all, God gives you what you want. And I wanted this more than I have ever wanted anything. And, the victory chants began.

I prayed for four years and tried any and every prayer suggested under the sun.

The night of July 9th, 2015, I received a phone call that my mom was gone. She had been gone emotionally for me for a while now, but it was more definite this time. She was physically gone now. She died in a car accident that day...

Not even thirty minutes before the phone call I was expressing to a friend how God was healing my mom.

Before everyone gets angry at God for me, or maybe you can just relate, I want to share my truth today: WE WERE NOT SOLD A LIE! Just a misinterpreted scripture.

"Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalms 37:4

I misunderstood how God operates. I thought that if I prayed or lived the right way or got the God formula exactly right, then God would give me what I asked for in time. Like making some spiritual deal with God.

To delight in someone, means to please them greatly. How can I please someone without knowing what pleases them? And how can I truly know what someone wants or is pleased by without spending any time with them?

You see, in praying for my mom every day, my heart began to change. Praying for her to change was purely selfish in the beginning. I wanted nothing more but to have MY foundation back. At some point, that shifted into desiring to see my younger siblings have a foundation, to then actually wanting to see my mother have joy for herself again. Later, I found myself even wanting to treat her better and realizing that the Lord did not only want to heal my mom, but heal my heart and all of those around us. These prayers, this desperation, had forced me to genuinely seek Christ. Genuinely delight in Him. Genuinely please Him.

All this time, God was actually giving me new desires. He was giving me the desires of my heart as I delighted in Him. Today, I am okay with the fact that I will probably never get everything that I want, because God knows that is not what is always best for me, His Kingdom, my heart or for those who will encounter my heart. God plans for me to become more like Jesus.

Today, I get that this time here on Earth is so temporary. My Hope is not for things to work out here by always suiting our initial wants or liking and comfort. My Hope is for eternity and my Joy is for the Kingdom of Christ to grow and knowing that I have a purpose and place in that growth.

You are right. I may not have seen this miraculous night and day difference in my mother, but I know he did give me new desires. I know so many people came to know Christ in that season of mourning. I know He restores. I now know that every selfish, earthly desire I possess is not meant to be given to me as I request it, because I serve a God who works all together for my good, not for my okay. And above all,

I know that God is faithful, and my mother sits in Heaven today Whole and Healed.

"Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalms 37:4