What excites you? What wakes you up inside? What buzzes through you until your soul comes to life? What stops you in your tracks?
We are all created with the capacity for deep desire. We are born to have passions that move us on the inside. We have things we lose ourselves in, where time disappears and we feel at home in ourselves.
Desire is a powerful force. Too important to miss and too essential to waste.
I realized recently that I have been believing a lie about desire. Many times, desire gets a bad rap. It is seen as selfish, sometimes even dangerous. We may even numb ourselves against passion's powerful draw, not understanding its purpose and fearing its pull. For me, the deception was more subtle.
Whenever something would stir my excitement I would think, “Duh Autumn! Wouldn’t everyone want to spend their life doing that?” I was duped by the belief that everyone would want what I wanted. And here is why this is so fatal. When we can be tricked into believing that our unique desires are just universal human wants, we stop seeing them as a reflection of the unique call on our life. We miss out on the clues about ourselves and how we are wired. Our longings stop being a source of life and creativity and begin to trigger guilty feelings of self-indulgence.
My desires are just that, mine. It hadn’t occurred to me that were I to share these elements of my dream life with a friend that they would understand the draw, but want something totally different for themselves. My desires point to my unique nature, which makes them an invaluable touch point in my relationship with myself and with God.
Here is an example: This summer we moved into a new house. It is on a big lot for the neighborhood and I have found myself longing to spend more and more time in the yard. I would love to spend a few hours every day gardening. I love it. It wakes me up inside. I find myself daydreaming about it. I scheme about what to plant where. I am in a committed relationship with the patch of wildflowers near our garage. I have a plan for cutting flowers to bring inside from April to September next year. Don’t get me started on the future vegetable garden. Its going to be epic!
When I think about wanting to invest more sweat and more money into the garden, this thought creeps in. "Wouldn’t that be nice? More time outdoors. Being in nature. Seeing the fruit of my efforts. Doesn't everyone want that? More leisure time, more resources to spend on their passions? Yup. Sounds nice. Time to get back to reality.”
So as I was scheming and dreaming about the garden, and feeling kind of guilty for wanting more instead of being grateful for what I have, another thought came bursting through.
I realized I had been writing off this experience as wanting what everyone would want. But the truth is not everyone wants to spend two hours a day doing yard work. It doesn't speak to them. I have friends that would pay serious money to not have to touch a plant outside ever again. They don’t like it and they certainly don’t want more of it. By in my assumption that this was some sort of universal human longing for the high life, I was missing what God was trying to show me about myself. I was missing all the richness of the experience and infusing my leisure with guilt. I was certainly not making more space for it in my life.
When we suppress our desires we rob ourselves of our connection with ourselves and with a God who created us with a unique identity. When we don't know ourselves, we can't show up for others. How can we be authentic when our sense of ourselves is ground down to nothing, hidden in the name of Christ-likeness? Jesus had an identity! He knew who he was and what he wanted. He followed his passions. Suppressing your desires until you no longer know what they are is not imitating Christ. It is suffocating His creation.
I want to encourage you to do something you may find challenging. Make room for your longings. Pay attention. Notice. and then chase down your desires. When you get a hint of what quickens your pulse, follow it. Explore the depths. Be fearless in your search for your heart’s resonators. Push past the numbing you thought was righteous but turned out to be deception. Step toward what has been beckoning you. Stop passing by your passions.
When you wake up to who you are, you come alive and we all benefit.