The Corners by Nadia Bolz-Weber
The Corners by Nadia Bolz-Weber
I Can't Get No

I Can't Get No

An essay on Satisfaction


“[Jesus said] If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

My friend Phil used to tell a story about how he was broke and needed to buy a car but he only had $500 to spend.  Then one day he found one – he found a $500 car on Craig’s list and on the phone the seller indicated that it was a blue Toyota - banged up but in working condition. . . and my friend Phil joked, oh, it’s blue? I was really wanting a red one” 

Lord, give me a RED $500 car and I will be satisfied.

I’ve found myself spending a lot of time daydreaming about, well . . . everything. Walking the Camino again. Finally moving out of my apartment and into a house. “Getting into shape” (which is just code for somehow managing to not be 52 - like doing whatever has to be done to be 40 again), checking out airfare to “exciting” places, buying clothes on line that I just have to return because they are clothes that would have fit me when I was 40. There’s nothing particularly wrong with any of these things (except the time travel body idea), it’s just that it all keeps me from enjoying my ACTUAL life.

I mention this because I’ve been thinking about the connection between acceptance and satisfaction.

See, in John chapter 14 Jesus is trying desperately to tell his disciples in about 600 ways that the Father has sent him, that if they want to see the heart of the Father they need look no further than to him, that he and the Father are one. To which Phillip replies “Lord, just show us the Father and we will be satisfied”

Will you though, Phillip? Will you be satisfied?

Jesus was literally standing right in front of him, in that present moment, and he was too in his head to be satisfied by that. I love Phillip for this.

It makes me wonder, in what ways do I assume my own satisfaction is somewhere else – in a future time, in a different situation, with different people – and how does this keep me from experiencing the gift of what happens to already be in front of me.

Meaning, if I cannot find satisfaction in anything I already have then why in the world do I think I could find satisfaction in anything I don’t already have? Meaning, maybe satisfaction is only possible, not by getting exactly everything I imagine would bring me satisfaction, but by first accepting the parts of life I can’t change. Accepting the parts of myself that I can’t change. Accepting the people I can’t change. (Which, if you are keeping score at home, the number of people I can’t change = ALL the people)

Now, I have to state the obvious here – I’m not suggesting people should be satisfied in abusive relationships or accept toxic situations or continue in unhealthy lives or cease growing in life and work. Acceptance doesn't mean resignation. Acceptance is just an honest acknowledgment of actual reality.

Phillip couldn’t accept the idea that Jesus was all he spiritually needed because he thought he already knew what God was supposed to look like and how God was supposed to act and what he got instead was Jesus of Nazareth.

But we’re all in that same boat, in a way.

It’s like Jesus is saying “what more can I tell you? What more can I do for you? What more can I show you? Everything you need has already been given to you.”

And then I’m all like:

“But Lord, I don’t want you, I want a map to you and I will be satisfied”

“But Lord, increase my income and I will be satisfied”

“But Lord show me the Father and I will be satisfied.”

But will I? Will I be satisfied?

Back to my daydreaming habit: I think that avoidance of the present moment is what keeps me from satisfaction.

Because how in the world can I actually experience anything I have now as being good if I live in the resentment or, even worse, the nostalgia of the past or if I live in the escapist hope or fear of the future. Like the old guys in AA meetings say, when you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you’re just pissing on the present.

We’re just missing out on the sacrament of the present moment, which is exactly where God is to be found.

This is why the I AM statements in John’s Gospel are so amazing.  Jesus said, I AM the way the truth and the life. Not I was the way, or at some point I will be the way. No. There is an I am-ness to the Lord. Which means now.

I need the I Am-ness of God. 

The right here-ness of God.

The right now-ness of God.

Because it’s not like God is hiding somewhere in our preferred future- like God is waiting for all the ideal circumstances to line up for us – like she is hiding in the future when we meet our husband and then she will finally jump out of the bushes and make all our dreams come true, or when we finally have a baby, or the moment when everyone in our lives finally starts acting the way we think they should.

You may never marry, you may never have a child, and for sure people will never magically act the way  you think they should.

But God is not to be found in eventualities.

God is to be found in actual reality.

THIS is the day that the Lord hath made.

THIS is the body that the Lord hath made.

THESE are the people that the Lord hath made.

Let us rejoice and be as glad as is realistically possible in all of it.

Because now, right now, is when God is saying be still and know that I AM God. Right now, as sirens wail, and coffee brews, and the dog still sleep, and my eyeliner from yesterday is smeared under my lids because I didn’t wash my face last night. Right now.

Be still and know that I am God.

Take a deep breath.

There are no red $500 cars to be found. Yet everything you need has already been given to you.


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READ my NYT bestselling memoirs: Pastrix; The Cranky, Beautiful Faith Of A Sinner & Saint (Re-released 2021), Accidental Saints; Finding God In All The Wrong People(2015) and SHAMELESS; A Sexual Reformation (2019).

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The Corners by Nadia Bolz-Weber
The Corners by Nadia Bolz-Weber
Grace for fuck-ups. Prayer for the impious.
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