The Painful Place Between Willing and Wanting


I am willing to wash the dishes. I don’t want to do it but I am willing to so our house will be clean.

I want to eat a chocolate chip cookie. I’m totally willing to eat chocolate chip cookies too.

You down?

Let me bring it to the farm. Julie is willing to milk the cow but she doesn’t really want to.

This really is not about milking the cow. It’s certainly not about chocolate chip cookies.

It’s about that wide and disheartening gulf between the things we are willing to do and the things we actually want to do.

What does Julie want to do?

That’s a very important question.

It turns out, more and more, that what Julie wants is not to run a farm while I’m at work. So year by year there is less and less farm. We started butchering layers today and there is no replacement flock.


Why is that disheartening? Isn’t that a bit of a strong word?

Well, the shrinking farm is not disheartening. That’s a reality and a consequence of our daughter’s illness.

The disheartening part is watching Julie wither away as I impose my will on her.

…watching us grow distant as I want what she is only willing to do.

OK. So now what?

Now we address the problem. We make small adjustments to our routines.

We want chickens but we don’t want to wash 40 dozen eggs Monday morning. How about pigs? I love having pigs. But pigs on pasture cause her a lot of frustration. So I have to find simple solutions to the pig problem to make it as hands-off as possible…while still honoring the pig’s design.

And milking. Every year milking led to crying. And more crying. But not this year. And why? Because we realized that we don’t need 2 gallons of milk every day. More on milking another time.

I’m not as concerned about the kidlets as I am about Julie. They approach a number of chores only reluctantly and want to play video games. Part of the deal for them is doing things they don’t want to do. But what about me? What about Julie? Yes, we do a number of things we are willing to do but don’t really want to do. I drive away from the farm every day because it’s the best thing I can do for my family right now. But I don’t want to do it.

However, I see that differently than making Julie, who is a willing participant, do things she doesn’t want to do all day.

Because it leads to resentment if she is never allowed to do the things she just wants to do.


I am being vague here. I don’t want to share too much about my beautiful wife…putting her on display for all the internet to read. But mistakes have been made. And we are working to ensure they do not continue.


Take a moment to ensure that you and your other both want the same things. Ensure that you have common vision, not division.

6 thoughts on “The Painful Place Between Willing and Wanting

  1. The willing/wanting perspective is very interesting. It could also be a priority list except how much you want or are willing to do is sometimes hard to prioritize.
    Your father wants to vacation in Russia and Taiwan. I am willing. Honestly flying that far is not something I am even willing to do.
    When I was a little girl, Mom needed a break from the everyday. She was trained as a beautician. She went into business which allowed her to hire a lady to come in and clean.
    She also joined a small group Bible Study which gave her a group of life long friends and a more solid foundation in her faith.
    Maybe what a person wants to do or is willing to do should be examined with what a person or a couple need to do. Mom and Dad had their parents and some of their grandparents to talk to as well as God to pray to. You don’t have to face these decisions alone.

  2. Chris:

    I’m so glad to see you publishing again. I really enjoy your meditations and insights.

    In addition, I marvel at your skill in photography—assuming you took all the pix in this letter. They are so beautiful.

    Uncle Jack


  3. Forgive me, I have not read your blog in many years. I really don’t read any blogs anymore. We still farm. It is hard work. I am tired. I appreciate all you have written about your relationship here. I understand. I think my husband and I are here too right now. God bless.

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