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By Jennifer Hartline

12/13/2008 (6 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Deep, pure, selfless gratitude to the infant King for humbling Himself for my sake -- this is the joy that is the antidote for the poison, and it's all I want for Christmas.


By Jennifer Hartline

Catholic Online (

12/13/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Even my children are making a list for Santa. I can't help but envy them the simplicity of their lists. I delight in their innocent childhood joy over a doll or stuffed animal or some other toy they're wishing for.

My own heart is filled with less childlike desires, and after careful consideration, I have boiled my "list" down to one thing. One BIG thing. Only one thing I want for Christmas this year...

I want to stop wanting.

Wanting breeds discontent.

Wanting infects my mind with delusions of inadequacy.

Wanting unsettles my spirit and poisons my heart with "If only..." and "What about me?"

Wanting distorts my vision, or just plain leaves me blind.

(Sure, there's wanting material "things." The seductive lure of STUFF is almost inescapable, and at Christmastime, it's disguised as gift-giving...yikes! But that's way too easy. By now we should all know that "stuff" doesn't fill the hole in our hearts or our lives.)

I'm talking about something much more important, and more difficult to pin down.

I want to stop wanting things to be the way I think they should be.

Stop wanting a different talent than the one I've been given.

Stop wanting a different place at the table than where I've been seated.

Stop wanting God to work in my life the way I think He should, to accomplish what I've decided would be good for me or my family.

Stop wanting more FROM God instead of more OF God.

This is the insidious way the wanting poisons my spirit, my relationships, my view of my life, my response to my heavenly Father. It's a deep, unspoken, almost subconscious expectation I have for my life.

The problem is my desires are self-centered, not God-centered. I secretly want to experience some blessing or ability someone else has... and why shouldn't I? What's wrong with me that I can't have/achieve/receive what that person has? And so, the wanting grows...

Remember the lessons of the potter and the clay? Perhaps the disease of discontent finds its roots there. "You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'He did not make me'? Can the pot say of the potter, 'He knows nothing"? Isaiah 29:16

And again in Romans 9:21... "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?"

Mother Teresa has inspired me to make a radical shift in thinking. "He can do with me as it pleaseth Him, without even a thought of consulting me. I just want to be His own little one - if He so wants, otherwise I will be happy to be just nothing and He everything." (Come Be My Light)

If God so chooses me to be a lowly pot used only for common, unseen tasks, it is His right. Who am I to demand otherwise? I have no right to expect nobility or applause or credit for myself, if He has chosen commonness for me. He has still given me everything by virtue of grace and the cross. If He gives me nothing else, ever, it must be alright with me. I must be happy to be nothing and He everything.

It is a daring prayer to say, and I'm not at all sure I have the goods to back it up, but I think this is the only wanting that will ever be satisfied.

God, grant me a heart that is empty of myself to the point of being nothing so long as You are everything. Then this disease of discontent, this poison of fruitless longing that leaves me sad and useless will be cured. If I want for anything, let it be more of Jesus.

The child in the manger gave me the ultimate demonstration of this Himself.

The Potter became Himself the lowliest pot and filled Himself with my wretched self-centeredness and sin. This is the unspeakable gift of Christmas! Deep, pure, selfless gratitude to the infant King for humbling Himself for my sake -- this is the joy that is the antidote for the poison, and it's all I want for Christmas.


Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.


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