On any given day of the week, my list of desires seem endless.
- A house full of laughter
- A family that increases in number and doesn’t just decrease
- Travel to Italy and bike through Tuscany
- Ride a donkey up a hill in Greece (cue Mamma Mia)
- Go on a walk with a boy I like and who likes me back
- UT (the original UT) to win the National Championship
- A judgement free zone as I process questions without it being a threat to the listener
- Men in the Church to be brave and speak out for the justice of women
Usually “if” statements cue me to the fact that I have crossed over from desire to demand.
If circumstances were just right then I would be ok.
If this person were more safe or gone then I could go back to that community.
If I laid out the boundaries and they adhered then I would have control.
If I could make someone feel sorry for me then God would move because that person would pray for me more.
If I had the perfect body and outfit then that boy would reciprocate feelings.
If Alabama would just get rid of nasty Kiffin everyone would be happy.
If men wouldn’t be passive and just quit looking out for their own needs then women could be esteemed.
If women would quit acting like they are helpless because they think it is cute then maybe we would be respected more.
Desires are strong.
We can be afraid that desire will consume us. Desire turned askew tells us whatever “it” is has to be met, and it has to be met now.
Living with desire there is always the temptation to go to one of two extremes. On one end of the desire spectrum we have idolatry. On the other end of the spectrum is killing desire and living in a state of numbness. Neither of which are healthy or what God invites us to.
Questioning God’s goodness happens when desire becomes an idol. Not questioning anything and moving through life wondering on occasion if God will throw us a bone happens when we kill desire.
I have a friend who is angry. He feels God has withheld his dreams of a wife and family. He basically said he gave God the middle finger, “God doesn’t care about my needs, so I’m going to take care of it myself. I’m mad as hell.” Yep. Unmet desire and the waiting will reveal when that desire has become an idol.
I have another friend who has let her heart go numb. She has been disappointed one too many times. This once vibrant, suck the marrow out of life friend has become a robot, a shell of the girl I once knew. Living with desire is too painful for her.
I think the real questions here are, “What is our truest desire?” and “What are secondary desires?”
Answering those questions with honesty can be scary, but freeing. Telling ourself the truth is always a great first step.
What does it look like to live in the middle? You know, that tender place where you are alive to desire without idolizing or killing it? How do we even pray?
I call it the one hand over the heart and one hand open prayer. Praying our longings and at the same time saying, “Not my will, but yours….” Living with a heart alive to God and others and to our desire is beautiful and painful. I cannot get over the paradox of these two things going hand in hand while we are here on this earth – beauty and pain, but somehow it is the broken way.
We see beauty and pain everywhere; this is desire in my opinion. Does it not make sense? Adam and Eve experienced beauty, the closest friendship, no pretending, no longing, face to face communication with God and every need supplied when the Liar of all liars said God was withholding from them. We are all longing for Home. Longing for the Garden. Of course our desires are strong. Our desires tell us something good and something evil. There are always two dialogues running through our brain – the false dialogue and the true voice of the Spirit. Sometimes it seems easier to give in to voice that justifies our distortions. However, at the end of the day, we want communion with God. We want to love others in whatever state we are in.
My friend Buddy called me the other day. He started telling me about a time when he was sitting with a group of people at one of Larry Crabb’s retreats. Larry asked the question, “What is our deepest desire?” You can guess how people started answering. “To be known.” “To be loved.” “To be seen.” “To be accepted.”
Larry said, “Those are needs and they have all ready been met through Christ, so I ask again, what is our deepest desire?”
“Our deepest desire is to love.”
This is the way of The Trinity. The Father. The Son. The Spirit. They are loving one another and loving us. They pour out for the good of the other and we are invited to do the same. Jesus’ desire was to do the will of his Father. Our Father. In his darkest moment he was thinking of us. He was loving us. He was showing us that what we think is impossible is possible – to love when it feels like there is no way.
May our truest desire to love in every circumstance of life become what compels us. Let us live alive to this desire.