What do you do with desire?
I’m not talking about “I desire bacon” or, “I desire a tropical vacation.”
I’m talking about deep heart desires, like the desire to be loved, respected, needed, safe, important, powerful, competent, noticed. If I don’t get bacon on any given day, I’m not going to be hurt. I’m not even going to be hurt if I don’t get chocolate, though maybe a little disappointed. But if my desire to be loved goes unmet, there is potential for deep ache. So what do I do?
Most people would agree there are two main directions we sway. One is to demand that desire is met. This often looks like anger and contempt. My kids disobey, and I insist that they change. I yell and put my foot down and demand that they do what I ask. Why? Because that’s what parents should do? No – there are other ways to obedience. I do it because at a deep heart level, I don’t feel respected by them, and I hate that. Their disobedience feels unloving, and I want to be loved and respected.
So I could go another route. I could deaden my desire. This feels like the more “Christian” option. I can tell myself that I don’t care. I deny. I kill the desire. I tell myself that I am selfish for wanting it, foolish for looking to children to satisfy a desire. This is nothing more than shaming ourselves for having a legitimate desire. The collateral damage of this is that we begin to shame others for their desires as well.
Is there a middle ground? I believe so. It’s what a friend of ours last night called, “liminal space.” It’s the place where you acknowledge the desire and you sit with it. I believe it’s a place where you honor the desire. You say, “This is a true desire, a God-given desire.” The difficulty of this in between place is that there is no guarantee that the desire will be met. In fact, often it’s not. So we sit with the ache.
Why on earth would we do that? Why would we intentionally put ourselves in such a place of vulnerability? Personally, I think it’s because that’s what God does. God desires. He desires relationship with us. He desires our love, our respect, our worship, our attention. He doesn’t demand it. He never says He doesn’t care anymore whether or not we respond to Him. He sits in the ache, longing for us. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, He waits every day, bearing the disappointment, in the hopes that something good will come. What He desires will happen.
So I believe that the liminal space is the place where God wants us to live because He lives there too. He wants us to develop hearts like His, hearts that are alive and full of desire. Hearts that are soft and vulnerable and honest. He wants us to honor the desires He has created in us.
What do you desire? And what are you doing with it?