Monday, June 19, 2006

Re-oriented desire

Do you know that early U2 song, Desi-i-i-i-i-re? It’s a pretty grungy song, about the street, very raw. Great rhythm. And it kind of puts into words the intensity of desire and how it can control us if we let it.

I sometimes hear people talk about “wrong desire” vs. “right desire.” Yet I’m not sure you can differentiate that way. To me, all desires are pointing toward something. Desire makes us transform. If we had no yearnings, we’d stay exactly the same as we’ve always been. We don’t always get what we thought we desired, but we do get answers.

Once I was highly desirous of a particular young man. I had fallen deeply in love with him, but he broke it off. For months, I couldn’t get him out of my head. I prayed and prayed and prayed about it, yet he never wound up calling me or showing any sign of interest. Why weren’t my prayers being answered?

All that prayer, though, was leading to spiritual growth in other areas. I became more connected to God spiritually, became more convinced of my own true nature, began to experience increased harmony in other areas of my life. Yet this obsession persisted.

One day I was studying the Bible and came across this obscure little passage in an unfamiliar psalm, addressing the Lord:

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

--Psalms

This took my breath away. “None upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Could I honestly say that I didn’t desire anything on earth above God, no person place or thing? And not even *above* God, but actually have no desire besides God?

If the psalm were correct, then my desires for love and affection and attention and intimacy could all be answered by the Divine. Maybe I should start looking there, instead of to a man.

So I did. I looked to God for all that I was desiring, and began to find answers. Small at first, but steady, about my own worth and loveliness.

Mary Baker Eddy writes in a well-known passage:

Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.

--Science and Health

All my desires had been prayers all along. By having desires, I was demonstrating a yearning to grow spiritually. I’m no longer afraid of my desires. I see them now as waymarks to what I next need to learn. And, because I know I’ll find answers, I’m more certain to orient my efforts toward Spirit.

I got over the guy years ago. But that moment with the psalm has stayed with me as a jewel in my spiritual treasure chest. It helps me to see that I never really did desire anything besides God.


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