I have wanted many things in my life. Sometimes it’s been material things like clothes, shoes or really any object I was convinced would make me feel sexier or cooler or lift my spirits up, if only for a short time. There have been plenty of other times when I wanted certain people, or more specifically, their approval of me. I thought that having certain people in my life would finally eradicate the emptiness I felt inside. I prayed for them and was haunted by disappointment at their lack of arrival or quick departure.

More often than not, my desire to attain all these things was out of a need to escape everything that I was feeling. I was sad and lonely and had gone through life always looking outside myself for answers or support or comfort. The trouble with constantly seeking external validation is that it never lasts long and you’re left feeling emptier than before. It becomes a race to get from one temporal fix to another.

Therefore, when it comes to praying for the things we want, it is important to know the “why” behind what we are asking for. We need to be clear and honest about the intentions underlying the object, person, place or job we desire. I have found that by doing this, two things happen: 1) I end up getting rid of any shame around the desire or 2) I confront the emotions and end up not even wanting that “thing” anymore. Really no outcome is more ideal than the other because they are both, ultimately, about owning where you are and what you are feeling in that moment. Say I want a boyfriend because I am feeling very lonely. Owning that loneliness and admitting that that is the reason I find myself wanting a partner is a beautiful expression of self-acceptance. It is a way to feel empowered by my situation rather than a victim to it and the more I practice that self-acceptance the less I will feel a desire to seek something outside myself (like the boyfriend).

Alternatively, I have received many things in my life that were good for me. I was blessed with the opportunity to leave my college town (and an abusive relationship). I was accepted into graduate school to ultimately leave two semesters short of finishing. I have been honored to hit more than one rock bottom and know all too well the feeling of being “lost”. I have prayed for what is good for me and sometimes that has meant having to go through very painful experiences. I’m not saying all good things for us have to be painful but all painful experiences are good for us. They uncover aspects about us that need love, acknowledgement and healing. They are beautiful opportunities for profound growth, if we choose to open our eyes and understand the lesson. Going through that pain and facing it helps us to expand and move out of it. The universe may not always give us what we want but it will always give us what we need.

This is not to say any of us should stop wanting. We are human and desire is a natural emotion that we all feel and too often we feel guilty or unworthy or shameful about the things we are wanting. We all deserve anything and everything we want in this life so long as it is not coming from a place of lack. We must remain honest with ourselves and be okay with wherever we are in our lives. And when it feels like the world is not on our side, and we keep getting hit with curveballs, it is important to stay open to the signs, to the greater lessons to be learned. Try to tell yourself that you’re getting what is best for your evolution. There is a prayer being answered and the storm will eventually dissipate. You simply have to wait it out.

Julia Piantini