Desire for me has been a word that I have often associated with evil, something that I need to suppress, control or (dare I say) even kill all in the pursuit of “being spiritual.” I can’t help but wonder, is desire really evil?
When I think about my day-to-day emotions, two seemingly different “desires” can emerge in the exact same moment.
- “I crave B.B.Q potato chips!” (Which I do, almost daily.)
- “I long to make sure my husband knows he was wrong!”
Is the answer to suppress these desires? To destroy them?
Webster’s describes desire as “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.”
Could desire be the invitation to begin a conversation that is true?
Seeing desire as an invitation.
Genesis 4:7 uses the word “desire” in the form of longing. Here God is walking with Cain (who is comparing himself to his brother and is no longer looking at God as his source) and talking with him about the desire of sin to overtake his heart. God doesn’t say, kill it, destroy it, maim or deny that this desire exists, but rather God names IT, speaks about the power IT has and ultimately invites Cain to engage with IT in order to “master it.”
The desire was evidence of Cain being alive to something other than God. IT revealed a pull into a deeper struggle. IT revealed an invitation to see into a deeper existence of living fully alive with God, not away from God.
And there it is — the invitation.
From watching Cain’s story, I can see the sacred potential that rests in recognizing my own desires – big and small – and how they have something to teach me about who I am, who God is and where I am headed.
Allowing desire to tutor me.
“Master it” seems a rather ominous term here, but if desire is not named and seen, it becomes the master manipulator of my actions. In the past two years, I have been intentionally looking at desire in my own life:
- engage with it
- push it away
- struggle against
- struggle for
- giving in and giving up
Here is what “mastering it” is teaching me – and wow, this is hard work. Untangling the core of my desires is about seeing the small and large ways that I have turned from the invitation of desire. So instead of ignoring IT, I’m trying to notice my desire and then to let it teach me to live present, fully alive to the moment before me — with God present with me.
I admit that it is easy to want to return to my old pattern of thinking:
DESIRE = EVIL – IT is the enemy!
The truth is, desire is my tutor. IT has something to teach me about how being made in the image of God is “…good, very good!”
My desire in writing this, is to invite you into some of the joys and struggles of desire – the tension filled moments of choosing. Will I separate myself and turn away from God or will I place my desires with God, the one who understands what it is that I am moving towards, communion or consumption?
Desire is rising in me right now in the form of, run, don’t be that honest about this, but instead I am going to stay in the tension and see what writing about desire has to teach me.