One Good Phrase: Holly A. Grantham (You can’t always get what you want…)

One Good Phrase: Holly A. Grantham (You can’t always get what you want…) June 19, 2013

Holly A. Grantham writes beautiful, rich prose that runs deep. And she does it without making it look hard. One of the things I love most about this series is the opportunity to introduce you all to the bloggers I love to read, in hopes that you will too. Add Holly to your list, will you?


In all respects, I should have been a spoiled child.

I was a surprise baby (child number five), with ten years separating me and my next oldest sibling. And if you’ve ever listened to the worn out tales of babies born into such circumstances you know the expected end-product: snotty nosed brats who lug around heavy doses of entitlement.

But God chose to place me in a family that doled out love by bushels and pecks and hugs around the neck and so the only things that came to be spoiled around our house were forgotten cartons of cottage cheese shoved to the back of the refrigerator.

Because, you see, love has never spoiled anything. Ever.

But I was a child once and, as such, I certainly had my moments–moments of selfish desire and impudent behavior, of unmet longings and unrequited wishes. And, being a child, I naturally looked to the givers of good things—my parents—for the delivery of said hopes.

So, as a child nurtured by way of arms flung wide and hearts burst open, the phrase “You can’t always get what you want” was a tad bewildering, at first. Not because I was spoiled or bratty or entitled but because, for so long, my parents’ love had been enough. Love and acceptance had been the standard upon which I grew and thrived and so, I had never really felt a lack.

And then I entered junior high and everything kind of flipped upside down.

I quietly observed the concept of cliques and was bemused by what was acceptable and what was unwelcome.  I became aware of “fashion” slapped across the backsides of popular girls and found in a triangle with a question mark inside. (The irony of the interrogative symbol is not lost on me today.) I began to struggle, every morning, with the curling iron, trying desperately and with disastrous results, to achieve the Mall Bang look.

I was quickly introduced to a world severely lacking:  my world.

Suddenly, I was deficient. And I was wanting.

And as I bent low at our kitchen table on afternoons made soggy by my belabored tears, my mom began to slowly share truth with me.

“You see, Holly, you can’t always get what you want.”

Through watery eyes, I stared at the face of love—love that had never left me empty handed. Yet, here I sat, vacant and unfilled, longing and confused.

What would take me years to begin to grasp was that it wasn’t necessarily the things that I “wanted” that I wasn’t getting, although that certainly seemed to be the case. Rather, I was confusing my need for love and acceptance with the hollow promises of a peer culture whose reputation would soon be sullied by what it could never really deliver.

I would also grow to learn that junior high was not the only place where lack reigned.

There would be adolescent crushes and competitive academics. There would be friendships built on empty premises and betrayals from those who knew me best. I would watch friends starve themselves, driven by a mad hope that less-of-them would grant them more-of-that. And loved ones whose hearts beat in tandem with mine would be snatched away by the evil of this world.

Lack would be everywhere.

But there was always that kitchen table. And like a weathered domestic altar, where my tear offerings and angst filled supplications were placed with fear and trembling, there was never any question. I always got what I needed.

What any of us ever really need.


Feelings of worthiness.



I began to grow into the understanding that what I want and what I need are really, if I’m deep down honest, one in the same. And, when I surround myself with people who love me and I keep my sails aright, open to spirit winds and gales of truth, then I will be satisfied.

And maybe, just maybe, a little spoiled.



Holly is a wife, very relaxed homeschooling mom of two boys (soon to be three), snapper of photos, coming of age writer and a soul drowning in grace. After years in Atlanta where she attended college, married the love of her life and lived in an intentional community, she found her way back to her home state of Missouri. She now lives in an antebellum stone house, raises chickens (sometimes) and pretends that she lives in the country.

Other places you can find her words are at her blog, A Lifetime of Days, and at SheLoves Magazine, where she is a weekly editor and monthly contributor.

Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.





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