"Thirst" by Mary Oliver from her collection of poems entitled Thirst
Tonight I managed to overdose on three things: homemade kale chips, 80s music, and dancing. I felt like the richest person in the world, so I took advantage of this little oasis of joy in my life to clean and organize, pray for friends and process so many good conversations I've managed to have lately.
When I was listening to this song: ("Desire" by Phil Wickham) at the gym today, it occurred to me that every conversation and so much of my reading lately has been about desire: misplaced desires, unmet desires, holy desires.
One particular question keeps bouncing around my head. A friend asked how Christian men in her life could be so unappealing and the sinners so vibrant and transparent. Because it's just absurd for me to even attempt to give dating advice, I immediately turned the question around and posed it about myself. Why am I, as a Christian, often such an unappealing representative of Christ? And then I found myself in a conversation with some close married friends about the roots of brokenness in marriage and the misplaced desires of men and women in relationships. And I wondered why I so often desire the very things that destroy me and find myself powerless to resist them when I know I don't want these things?
I hope you weren't looking for answers. Because I don't have them. I mean, I get the big picture, sin entered the world and we became selfish and it was all downhill from there. But once having found everything that my soul desires in Christ, then why is it so hard to keep my focus on him?
I've been dwelling in Psalm 119 lately, and not just because it's freakishly long and I'm mind-numbingly slow. I keep reading parts over and over again, and I began to realize that this guy has these issues too. In one verse he laments, "Oh! That my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees," and in another he says, "I have done what is righteous and just." Which is it buddy? The writer goes back and forth between pleading and declaring, courageous and fearful, victorious and defeated with dizzying speed. The constant is this Psalm is not the situation of the Psalmist, but his desire.
Earlier this week a conversation with another single mom, I admitted that if it weren't for my love of Jesus, I would be all kinds of messed up (I may have inserted a Biblical reference to an unsavory character in Revelations that doesn't need repeating). And as I pondered this thought and the struggles that I currently have with all kinds of desires, holy and otherwise, I feel fairly certain that God is not calling me to kill my desires, but rather to train them on himself. It has been a wonderfully freeing thought to know that I am not killing off parts of me, though it sure does feel like it sometimes.
And all this swaying back and forth in my head and emotions isn't all because I'm crazy. Well, maybe some of it is. But to maintain the essence and fullness of all my desires while learning to train them on Christ, is like a kid trying to draw a straight line. It's going to be full of wiggles. But like every picture that Quinn draws for me brings me joy, God thinks my wiggly attempts at holiness are beautiful. And he loves my desires, I'm convinced that is his favorite part of me. He's just helping me remove all the ugly parts without losing any of the intensity.
So I'm tasting a small bit of what it must feel like for the Psalmist to be able to say, "I run in the paths of your commands for you have set my heart free," which of course only magnifies my desires to the point of feeling like I might explode if I don't make it to heaven soon. No wonder John ended Revelation with the phrase, "Come, Lord Jesus."