What’s Wrong With My Desires?

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A couple weeks ago I was talking to my brothers about why we as humans are so unhappy. One of them opined that the issue is rooted in our desires: we expect too much out of things and of people. Those things and people never deliver, and thus we’re left disappointed and unsatisfied. So, the proposed solution would be to lower our expectations or stop desiring things that won’t meet them.

In true Ronia fashion, I’ve been chewing on this conversation since then. What if our desires are noble? What if we were made to desire deeper and greater things, and our high standards and expectations are inherently good? That would mean the issue is not in our desires but the things we seek to fulfill those desires. For example, I could desire celery but instead seek after an apple. I’d be left disappointed because I pursued the wrong thing.

Alternatively, what if our desires are the problem? What if they’re twisted and they need total uprooting? This would mean that I desired an apple (and pursued it), and I’d need to change my desires to want celery (and seek celery) instead.

For the purposes of this blog post, “desire” means all that we long and yearn for. “Pursuit” means all that we seek. We typically pursue that which we desire. However, we can have desire with no pursuit (I really want an apple but I’m not going to do anything about getting one), and we can likewise have pursuit with no desire (I don’t want the apple, but I’m going to eat it because I know I should).

Lately, I’ve been really hungering after things but feeling left unsatisfied. I’ve been frustrated and conflicted as to whether my desires are right and my pursuits are wrong, or whether my desires are wrong and thus so are my pursuits. The word “seeking” has been haunting me. There’s a voice that repeatedly whispers over me in the midst of my insatiable and greed-driven desires and pursuits: Ronia, you’re seeking something right now. What are you really seeking, and why are you chasing after what you’re chasing after?

I’m really encouraged to know that Jesus desired and sought, too. He came to seek and save the lost; he sought to do the will of his father. Everything he pursued and sought after was therefore a reflection of his desires: “I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24). And the only way that could happen is if he saved us from our selves – which is what he sought.

This makes me believe that our seeking, hungering, and desiring – in and of themselves – are good. There are really good desires, and there are really good pursuits. Reading about Jesus’ desires and what he revolved his life around accomplishing also makes me realize how totally twisted both my desires and pursuits are, and how terribly they are in need of uprooting.

Which is why I’m grateful for the promises of Jesus. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Isaiah 36:25-26).

Jesus is celery, the all-satisfying and sufficient source of joy and purpose that no other fruit or vegetable could ever compare to. In light of this, the absolute only hope I have for happiness and satisfaction in this life is that God would change my heart to desire celery and pursue celery with every celery-seeking cell in my body.

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