This month our church theme is desire. When I read this poem by Howard Thurman it resonated with me although some of the ways that I would wish to be better are different than the ones he lays out here.
I Want to be Better
The concern which I lay bare before God today is my need to be better:
I want to be better than I am in my most ordinary day-by-day contacts:
With my friends—
With my family—
With my casual contacts—
With my business relations—
With my associates in work and play.
I want to be better than I am in the responsibilities that are mine:
I am conscious of many petty resentments.
I am conscious of increasing hostility toward certain people.
I am conscious of the effort to be pleasing for effect, not because it is a genuine feeling on my part.
I am conscious of a tendency to shift to other shoulders burdens that are clearly my own.
I want to be better in the quality of my religious experience:
I want to develop an honest and clear prayer life.
I want to develop a sensitiveness to the will of God in my own life.
I want to develop a charitableness toward my fellows that is greater even than my most exaggerated pretensions.
I want to be better than I am.
I lay bare this need and this desire before God in the quietness of this moment.
— Howard Thurman
After reading this poem I went ahead and made a list of the ways that I want to be better. One might think that this would be a discouraging exercise but the great thing about a desire to be better is the feeling of hope and optimism that accompanies it. Surely desiring something is the first step in achieving it – or at least coming closer to the mark. You may have heard the quote that “you miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take”. Desire motivates. Desire makes life exciting and gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Being in tune with our desires gives us a sense of who we are.
Janen Wright, Directory of Faith Formation