day 4 – want – (living below the line diaries)

It’s day four and I’m reflecting on the fact that my usual “what do I want?”  question has this week become “what am I allowed?” “what can I afford?” and “what do I need?”. It’s made me realise how used I am to getting what I want.


At every step, I am faced with my wants versus my reality. I want fresh fruit with my porridge to make it taste better, but it’s not in our food allowance. I want nicer tasting tea, but we had to buy the value range. I’m feeling low on energy so I want to rest today, but instead I have to work.

Of course, there’s a deeper level to this reality

We have fruit and Fairtrade tea sitting in the cupboard, so I could choose to have them. I have money in my purse so I could buy a sneaky treat to boost my energy levels. I work in a society where it’s common to take days off sick when needed, so I could rest and still be paid and not loose my job.

I have found myself continually confronted with the dilemma of satisfying my wants versus staying true to what we’re doing this week.

Temptation is all around me and I’ve been a little shocked at how easily I am beguiled by it. That little voice on my shoulder seems to be shouting very loudly “it’s okay, no-one will know, you need to keep your energy levels high, don’t make yourself ill, you’re doing this voluntarily so you deserve a treat, the things in the cupboard were already bought so it’s not cheating if you use them…”

And this is where my pride kicks in.

I want you to think that I am nobly fighting off temptation, not letting it touch my steely resolve to get through this week with an authentic experience.

I want you to see me as someone who is able to continually choose standing alongside others in need above my own wants.

But that would be a lie.

My want for you to see me as a success is again smashed by my reality. I have found it immensely difficult.

I have felt continually hungry. I have felt faint. And as a result, I have succumbed to a tiny amount of extra food each day because of low blood sugar levels and bad headaches. A few slices of dried apple one day… a bit of jam another…

And of course everyone around me is relieved that I have avoided making myself too ill to work by these tiny additions – on Sunday, one friend said “make sure you’re careful to keep your energy levels up because of your migranes” – we are after all taking part in a voluntary exercise, and I have responsibilities and expectations to meet.

In fact, some people have said to me, that it’s particularly impressive that I’ve chosen to do this at all given the headaches I am prone to getting, and to keep going with it given the ones I have experienced this week.

But in the truest sense of the live below the line exercise, I have failed.

And the thing that gets me the most is that I can afford to fail.

I have spare food, I have money, I have a secure job. I have Saturday when normality returns. I can choose to admit my failure because I know my friends will understand and somewhat paradoxically, will probably like me more for doing so.

For me, “I want” usually fairly easily translates into “I now have”. The 1.4 billion people who live below the line every day do not have this option. Most days, their wants stay wants. Surely there has to be a way that sacrificing my wants can help their need?

When Jesus taught us to pray “lead us not into temptation”, I think he knew that one of our greatest temptations would be too much. For the more I have, the more I want – and the more I want, the more I struggle to share.

I guess all good things become temptations when we focus on the gift more than the Giver.

Jill Andrews

A prayer for sharing

Lord, you tell us to pray “lead us not into temptation”
But what about the times when I choose to be led?
Forgive me for when my wants have denied others’ need.

Lord, all good and perfect gifts come from you
So why do I grasp onto them like they’re my own?
Forgive me for when my wants have denied others’ need.

Lord, you have asked me to care for the poor
But they seem so far away when I am hungry.
Forgive me for when my wants have denied others’ need.

Lord, you know that my heart desires to love my neighbour,
To follow you in laying down my life.
But I so often fail.
Help me to place others’ needs before my wants
And teach me to share your gifts with all.

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