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When my youngest daughter was in the first grade, I volunteered to teach the Junior Achievement program to her class. The JA program was a good introduction for the students into economics and making financial choices.

One of the sessions in the class had to do with wants and needs. It was a lesson on distinguishing between things that we need and things that we simply want. The needs, of course, included food, water, shelter and clothing, but also included other necessities that help one procure those needs, such as a high school diploma or a vehicle to get to work.

I remember chuckling when I asked the kids for examples of things they need. I got answers like a puppy dog, new soccer cleats, and the newest video game. They didn’t think it was very funny when I responded that those were actually “wants” instead of real needs.

I know the intent of the program was to help introduce kids economically into the world of smart consumerism, but I remember there was a feeling of guilt around actually wanting anything. A want seemed to be a mere extravagance. And, in hind sight, I don’t remember talking about wanting something that you actually need.

This memory from fifteen years ago came back to me this morning as I knelt in church after receiving Holy Communion. As I looked at Jesus on the cross, I thought about my relationship with God. God does’t need me. He doesn’t need anything! But, He wants me! He wants me so much that He was willing to give up His only Son to be nailed to a cross in order to show me how much He loves and wants me.

On the other hand, I thought, I need Him! For most of my life I didn’t know this, but I know it now. God designed me to need Him.

And, I’ve come to believe that what really makes God happy is to know I also want a relationship with Him; that my desire to choose His love is of my own free will even though He has given me the freedom to do otherwise.

I want Him like I want water when my body tells me it needs to be hydrated. I want Him like I want a big juicy cheeseburger when my body tells me it needs food for strength.

I know this makes God happy because it’s the way I feel about my own children.  They’re grown and away from home with children of their own.  They don’t necessarily need me anymore.  But, I can’t describe the joy that I feel knowing they still want my love and that they still want to love me.

Looking back, I can see that, in the world of consumerism, wants should play second fiddle to one’s needs.  But, in the spiritual world, wanting God is what makes all the difference.

In choosing a loving relationship with Him, all my spiritual wants and needs are aligned and are satisfied when I accept His gift of Himself in the form of the Holy Eucharist – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of God the Son.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

I think if I was to teach JA to first graders again, I would be sure to teach them that the best value for their money, both economically and spiritually, will be when they align their wants with their needs.

Are your wants aligned with your needs?

“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your patience and loving persistence as You waited for me to see that I needed Your gift of faith. Lord, thank You for quenching my thirst and hunger for You by offering me Your Son, Jesus, Who has shown me how You want me to live. And, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit with enough love to not only fill my heart but enough to share with others. Amen.”

(Wants and Needs was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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