That deep, unmet longing you have. That desire. What do you do with it?
It may be a job you’ve always dreamed of – or – a wife – or – just someone to truly love you – or – financial freedom – or – a great relationship with our Dad. We all have “something”. There is this “something” out there that just seems to be out of reach. No matter how hard we try, it remains illusive.
why is this? Is God holding out on us?
For many men — just to be totally open with you — it is sex. The desire for a deep, fulfilling sex-life with our wives. For her to want this as much as we do. And, by the way, the desire ultimately isn’t about the sex. No, the desire is for intimacy. There is that word again…desire.
But what if that is illusive? What if she just doesn’t have the desire? She’s too tired, frustrated with the kids or just isn’t interested. This persists for quite some time. You talk about it. She says she’ll pay more attention. But nothing changes and the frequency falls off even more.
What on earth is a man to do with this?
What typically happens is one of two things but before those emerge, hostility grows. Resentment. Bitterness. Isolation. Heartache. And the more we focus on it, the larger the issue becomes. We start to focus on “it” – be it money or sex or position or that job or that car – and we begin to believe “My life would be complete if only I could have _____”
Have you ever felt this way? Is there something right now, this very second that comes to mind that is this “it” for you? The thing that steals your attention. The thing you seem to obsess over? The thing that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to shake it?
We all have a cross to bear.
So what do we typically do with this cross? One of two things. One, we dive head-first into it. We give ourselves over to the desire. We pursue the desire with reckless abandon and it leads to addiction and damage. Follow me on the sex thing – so it isn’t happening. We talk about it. I buy books on the subject. I read blogs. I start to focus on it. The more I dig, the more apparent it is that she isn’t going to come around. The more I dig, the more I crave it. The more I crave it, the less it happens. It feeds on itself. This desire becomes a monster that grabs all my attention. I begin to shift from wanting this or desiring this to believing “I have to have it”. And very easily, we turn to porn or another woman…“If I can’t get intimacy with my wife, I’ll get it on my own.” And then the real problems set in.
It reminds us of Adam & Eve – there was this one thing they couldn’t get that they came to believe they “had” to have and so they took matters into their own hands. We know what happened.
So option one is, we dive into it. Option two is, we deny desire. We shut it off. At the first hint of a desire for something, we slap it down as “self” taking control and we do everything we can to kill desire…“To be truly Christ-like, I must kill all desire”. Ummm…no, that isn’t the idea. If we follow this path, we’ll harden our heart. If I decide in my marriage to kill all my desire for sex, I will shut down all intimacy completely. We’ll become roommates instead of husband/wife. Any twinge of desire I feel for her and I’ll slap my own hand away and say, “No, desire is wrong and selfish, I shouldn’t have these feelings” and so I will harden my exterior and put up walls lest I be tempted to desire for her. What kind of marriage would that path produce? I shudder to think.
Change the topic on this to dreaming and success. If I dive into it no matter the cost, I will lose myself in the pursuit. Success will become my only reason for living. The world will suck all of me away as I chase success. I might get it but what else will I lose in the addiction to success? Conversely, if I shut down my dreams and my drive…what becomes of me? If I live my life killing off all my dreams, creativity and all my desires for success…what then? What kind of person results from that? Is that really why God put this desire in me so that I can kill it off? Did he create me with this desire and creativity and ability to innovate just so I could kill it off?
No, listen, desire is good. I believe God gave us these desires for a reason. My physical desire for my wife is good. It is good! God gave me a sex drive for a reason. He gave Eve to Adam for a reason. Intimacy, a help-mate, a companion, someone to tend to the garden alongside him. What is this a picture of? This intimate relationship model that is marriage? It is a picture of the kind of relationship God wants with you. He radically desires (there is that word again) intimacy with you.
So the answer isn’t in diving head-first into desire and making desire your “God”. Nor is the answer to kill off desire as some evil sin. The answer is in the middle. Stay tuned for the next post.