Wishing VS Pooping: A More Effective Approach

Since the arrival of my little niece, Charlotte, just a few hours ago, I have wished for a thousand things.

I wish I was there… I wish I could hold her… I just wish I could meet her… I wish I could hug my sister… I wish we lived closer… I wish I could smell her new baby smell… I really wish I had a Starbuck’s hot, venti, skinny, vanilla latte in my hand (What?! I do.)…

I’m the queen of wishing for the impossible.

When my kids were small they started wishing for stuff, too. And it drove me absolutely nuts! Mostly because they would look at me with sad, droopy eyes and “wish” for things instead of asking for them directly, like this – *sigh* “I wish I could have a cookie.” And the response was always the same, “Well, then you should try ASKING for a cookie, and see what happens.”

I don’t know why they kept on wishing, it never really worked for them. As they got older, I got increasingly aggravated at being approached like an invisible Fairy Godmother every time one of my kids wanted something. I was starting to worry about their future. Can you imagine a grown man quietly wishing for a raise in front of his boss, or subtly wishing aloud that his girlfriend would marry him? An adult sadly wishing down the price of a car to the dealer?

That would be ridiculous… not to mention embarrassingly wussy.

Then one day El Chupacabra said something that all but put wishing to an end in our household. I don’t know which kid was wishing, nor do I remember what it was he had wished for, but I do remember that El Chupacabra looked right at him and said flatly:

“Son, wish in one hand and poop in the other. See which one fills up faster.”

And, after an hour and a half of hysterical laughter, the depth of those words sunk into my bones and changed my life forever. ….um…or, they should have, cause that’s brilliant stuff right there!

His point was that if you want something, working for it -not wishing for it- is the way to go. Even if that work is as simple as asking directly. And the other part of that is that if you keep trying to fill up on wishes, you’re going to be left feeling pretty empty.

And he’s right.

The truth is, I can sit here and wish that I had been there when my sister squeezed out this kid, and I can wish that I was holding a squirming bundle of niece in my arms right this second, but I will still be in Costa Rica, and she in NorCal. I can wish and wish and wish that I will wake up tomorrow and there will be a Starbucks barista standing next to my bed ready to hand me a steaming caramel Macchiato… It ain’t gonna happen.

And if I spend too much time wishing about it all, my life could start to feel very, very empty, and then I might get very, very bitter, and I could even forget that I really like my life here in Costa Rica, in fact sometimes I love it, and I could easily dismiss the truth that it is my honor to be here.

So instead of whispering my longings to the universe today, I will say them directly to God. I will be proactive by praying for this new baby, my sister and her family, and I’ll resist the urge to be inactive by wishing I was nearer to them.

I have to admit – I’ve been wishing too often lately. Wishing for more money. Wishing I could change certain things. Wishing to heal a few deep wounds. Wishing that I wasn’t paralyzed at times by this overwhelming life I’ve found myself living. Wishing for a certain overly expensive coffee chain to show up and make it all better.

I’ve been doing too much wishing, and not enough pooping… er…you know what I mean…

Is there something you’ve been wishing for that you could, instead, be proactively working toward? Or is there a wish on your list for something you can’t change, and it’s leaving you empty?



  1. Michelle on March 4, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    In our house it was the word "want" rather than wish, but my husband said the same thing to our boys. And it was something he heard from his Dad.

  2. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on March 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Let's here it for clever Dad's who share such wisdom with their kids!! 🙂

  3. Vicki on March 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Yes, I have been wishing too much. How did you know???? Thanks for the reminder and the brilliant advice. Why is it always so easy to forget the obvious?

  4. perfectly imperfect on March 4, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Haha! Yay, Dad's! There is an African Proverb that says something like "pray and pray, but when you do, move your feet!" I always think of that when we have a need, or a goal to achieve. Which brings me to your question. I wish I could be content. If I was content, then I wouldn't be wishing for anything, really. Like in Timonty 6, "… but Godliness with contentment is great gain." Therefore, no emptiness.
    Now, if I could just take what ''I know'' and ''move my feet" !!!!!!!!……:)

  5. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on March 4, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    That a great proverb! and I LOVE the idea of simply being CONTENT!! that'a a nagging "wish" of my own! Thanks for popping in with a good word, perfectly imperfect!

  6. Jill on March 4, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    My grandfather used to say that exact same thing, well, he would say "pee" instead of poop. Too funny. I wish for a husband and a "normal" house, one that doesn't have "wooden" cabinets that are peeling and one where I can fit my shoes, and one where I can actually do my own laundry without having to walk 100 yards and insert $2.00 in quarters. I have brought these things to God (well, mostly the husband thing) but no matter what, nothing works. I'm very frustrated. I always go directly to God. Oh well. Love you Jamie <3.

  7. Aydan on March 4, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks for this insight. I'm really bad at asking people to help me, so when I'm at work and don't know where to get something or how to do something, I tend to stand around for a few minutes before I realize that the problem's not going to fix itself!

  8. Kirk on March 4, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    My Grandpa always said "poop" (but not that word) in one hand, want in the other, plop 'em together and see what you get"

    Of course, I'm a Wright so I can relate to where Steve got it

  9. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on March 5, 2010 at 8:12 am

    JIll – I love you, girl! I lift those very same things up to God on your behalf!!

    Wow! I see there are loads of wise old Grandpas out there!! How cool is that?

  10. Chris Noelle @perfectly imperfect on March 5, 2010 at 10:38 am

    oops, sorry for no name post… that sounded kinda corny…so I changed it! Ha!

    I forgot one thing:
    you have the BEST COFFEE right outside your house!!!!!!!
    My hunk went on missions to Costa Rica and always brought me back a butt load of beans!

    Do you need me to send you some chocolate syrup and soy milk?


  11. Kyle Reed on March 5, 2010 at 11:16 am

    That is going up on the refrigerator.
    I have been looking for some motivation.
    Good stuff

  12. kathy on March 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    So true. Feeling the same. Thanks for the words of wisdom.
    Wish I could show up at your door with 2 skinny vanilla latte's! 😉
    Learning more and more how much nothing is possible on my own and TRYING to wait patiently – content to be just where I am.
    … you are loved

  13. deemus on March 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I think the Christian translation of that would be, "be doers of the word, not hears (or wishers) only."

    Good saying for sure…

  14. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on March 5, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    i love that connection, deemus. Thanks for that!

  15. Becca H on March 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    You check my complaining. It's good.

  16. Kirk on March 9, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Can I bring some Starbucks with me when we come down??? 🙂

  17. Carrie on March 10, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Oh man! I read all the comments and there is another "Perfectly Imperfect" blogger. Can there really be two? That's what I wish to know…


  18. malia on March 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    i just read that quote in the book Cold Mountain!

  19. chocolateseoul on July 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

    convicting. my brother is getting married today in California and i live in south korea with my fam. it kills me the stuff i've wished but not prayed for. how stupid to forget that God cares. sheesh.

Leave a Comment