Wanting His Joy More Than His Attention

A long time ago I encountered the man of my dreams.  He was everything I could have wanted in a spouse: extremely intelligent, loved the Lord with his whole heart, kind, had similar interests to me.  There was just one slight problem.

This man could not have cared less about me if he tried.

Frequently I would run into him, and after saying a quick and cold hello, he would turn the other way.  Yet his presence seemed to continuously fill my life.  After many months of encountering his indifference, I went to Jesus in the Eucharist and began to pour out my heart…

“Lord, I never want to see this man again!  Every time I see him, he hardly even speaks to me.  Ugh!  Just get him out of my life!”

I felt the Lord respond: “Kara, pray for him.”

Immediately I looked up, and with total transparency and sass to spare, told Jesus: “Nope.  No, I sure won’t.  I’m not going to pray for someone who won’t even give me the time of day!  Sorry, not sorry.  Find some other girl.”

And Jesus in His tenderness then pressed upon my heart: “Kara, pray for him.  Because I want you to desire his joy more than you desire his attention.”

Ouch.

I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me.  Suddenly (and painfully!) I came face to face with the reality of my own selfishness.

Countless times I had seen this man, and only one thought filled my mind: “What is he thinking of me?  How is he treating me?  Why isn’t he taking interest in me?”

Not once had I even considered: “How am I treating him?  How can I be kind to him?  How can I show him the love of Jesus?”

In that moment I saw as clear as day that one day (God willing) I would be standing before my husband, and I would be asking myself this very same question: “What do I desire more?  His joy or his attention?”

It’s so difficult—especially when we are single—to get off the defense and choose to put others before ourselves.

A priest and dear friend of mine once told me: “Kara, you need to work extra hard to think of others before yourself.  Especially singing and being on stage where you’re worried about how you look, how you sound, what others think of you… Stop worrying about yourself.  How can you love those around you?”

“But Father!” I exclaimed.  “If I forget myself, and think of others, who will think of me?  Who will be concerned for me?”

He wisely replied with a big grin: “You’ll have to trust God for that, won’t you?”

Putting others before ourselves presupposes that we are taken care of.  We can look at whoever is in front of us, and consider their needs before our own because there is Someone who is taking care of every single thing for us.

Someone who intimately knows our needs and sees daily that they are met.  Someone who knows well the deepest longings of our hearts, and will personally make sure that they do not go unfulfilled.  Someone who watches every breath that we take, and counts every hair on our head each night.  Someone who is a loving Father.

I have been going to Jesus a lot lately and asking myself: “Do I trust You, Lord?  Do I trust You so much that I can totally abandon my life to You?  That I don’t have to worry about trying to control my life, or grasp after love, or figure everything out?  Because You are truly, truly good? And You, my Father, will give it all freely to me?”

Only when I have radical trust in Jesus, can I look at a man and say: “Yes, I might want his attention.  But his joy is what I seek.  For there is One whose attention is all mine.  He is my joy, and He will give me the love I so long to give and to receive.”

Be His,

Kara Klein