Desire. It can be a debilitating, driving force, or a welcome friend. Which one depends on your response to desire. We must choose how to let desire affect us, our relationships, our lives. Desire is a secret sacred friend – to us, to our longing and belonging. If we allow our desire to be our friend, it will open up new places of being, of belonging for us. It will open us up to hearing the voice of God and how to walk in his will for our lives.
You might ask, can’t desire be a bad thing? Yes, depending on how you are referring to it and if we allow desire to control us, drive us toward things that are not for our good. Then it becomes an enemy. However, as we yield our desires to God and befriend them, we are able to learn that they Are God-given, God-directed, and ultimately, for the enhancement of our lives and our spiritual growth. John O’Donohue states, “There is great beauty in the notion of desire…The human heart discovers its most touching music when desire and love inform each other. When we love, we leave our separate solitude s and come toward union, where we complement each other. It is this ancient desire in every heart to discover and come home to its lost other half that awakens and activates its capacity for love and belonging” (pg. 23, To Bless The Space Between Us).
There is much for us to learn and befriend in desire. It is at the heart of our creativity. Sometimes, unbefriended desire can cause restlessness, dissatisfaction, dis-ease, and it can blind us to the truth of who we are and what true desire can really work in us. Our dreams, our fantasies, our deepest longing, reveal to us the nature of the desire that we have accepted. O’Donohue cites, “Our dreams and fantasies showcase the directions in which our desire would love to lead us. Dreams are narratives of desire. We can learn the forms of longing within us, if we attend to our dreaming. There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the desires that still call us. In this sense our desires are the messengers of our unlived life, calling us to attention and action while we still have time here to explore fields where the treasure dwells” (pg. 24, To Bless The Space Between Us).
One of the deepest desires is our longing to fill that place in our lives that only God can fill. It is the place only he can make complete. The fulfillment of this desire, this longing, is what causes us to have hope in the midst of tests and trials and to share that hope with those around us. That is why it is called a living hope. However, if we are not purposefully integrating this desire into our beings, we dangerously open ourselves up to seeking after other means of “completing, fulfilling” that desire. We make gods of self-gratification, work, and attempt to control those things that enter our lives, manipulating and controlling people, circumstances, and allow them to take the place of God in our lives. All the time thinking that those things are meeting that God-desire, our need to be complete and whole. If allowed to do so, those altered desires and longings, can harm and even destroy us.
Philip Sheldrake states, “Our desires imply a condition of incompleteness because they speak to us of what we are not or do not have. Desire is also, therefore, a condition of openness to possibility and to the future. Desires ground us in the present moment, but, at the same time, they point of the fact that this moment does not contain all the answers…Being people of desire implies a process of continually choosing…This is a process of inclusion rather than exclusion. The movement inward is where the essential self, or ‘image of God’ within, may be encountered…Our spiritual journeys are essentially stories of continual transition” (pg.18-19, Befriending Our Desires).
It is vital to find a place in the midst of our busy lives that we don’t just settle for where we are. If we are to grow and be full, complete, we must let Godly desire stretch us and root us in hope and love and the fullness of life in God. If at the present moment you are going through a difficult time, experiencing pressure, search your heart and see if there is an invitation from God to go deeper, to do something different – explore a new creative idea, or write a poem or story, or paint a picture – something that might express the new, or a deep desire never explored before, or a Godly longing never yielded to before. The future awaits – explore it with God and see where he takes you.