The Importance of Naming Our Greatest Desire

“Your deepest desire,” he observes, “is the one manifested by your daily life and habits.” This is because our action—our doing—bubbles up from our loves, which, as we’ve observed, are habits we’ve acquired through the practices we’re immersed in. That means the formation of my loves and desires can be happening “under the hood” of consciousness. I might be learning to love a telos (an ultimate object or aim) that I’m not even aware of and that nonetheless governs my life in unconscious ways.” -James K.A. Smith

I don’t know what to call this particular blog post. God is in the process of surgically reshaping my greatest desires and it is painful. I wanted to just go ahead and share with you some of the things that I am currently thinking about and experiencing. Here goes…

  • Our greatest desire has tremendous power to shape, direct, and influence our life. Think of your greatest desire as the current of a river that is slowly guiding you through life.
  • Here is the problem many of us are facing, often times we are not aware of what our greatest desire truly is. We are busy, distracted, addicted, confused and out of touch with what is really going on in our own heart.
  • Which means that we are being led in life by desires that have been unchecked or unevaluated.

Craig’s greatest desire is to be viewed as successful in ministry. His feelings go up and down based on Sunday morning attendance. He works tirelessly not out of love for God but so that others will respect and esteem him.

Jill’s greatest desire is to have a man in her life. She goes through one man right after another. She has made sexual compromises that she never imagined making.

John’s greatest desire is to go hunting with his friends. John’s kids, and wife, know what his great passion in life is.

Kelly’s greatest desire is to look like the celebrities on Instagram.  She has never been happy with the way that she looks. Food, exercise, and dieting have become evil tyrants in her life.

Mike’s greatest desire is to be appreciated and respected at work. He goes from happiness when he is recognized to anger and despair when he is overlooked.

Lori’s greatest desire is to spend time with her family. She is making a god out of her kids and she is not even aware of it. Her family quietly senses that there is a hole in her heart but they know better than to say anything.

Dylan’s greatest desire is to save enough money so that he can live a comfortable retired life. The few precious days that God has given him on earth will be wasted.

Lisa’s greatest desire is having a nice home. She finds herself obsessing about upgrades and renovations. The buzz from something new or better never lasts very long.

Brandon’s greatest desire is the satisfaction that he gets while he is on his phone. He has no idea that that he spends more time checking his phone than doing anything else.

Each of the above people, if asked, would probably say that their greatest desire is God.

  • If our greatest desire is not God we will become angry, depressed, cynical, bitter, toxic, addicted, etc. The reason is simple, nothing else has ability to satisfy us. For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. -Jeremiah 2:13
  • Once we realize that we are not being made happy by our greatest desire you might think we would wake up and change. Unfortunately, what we do is keep the craziness alive by escaping or numbing ourselves from our pain and refuse to change. This is where addiction begins to tighten its noose around our neck.
  • In order to name our greatest desire we must slow down. We must be quiet. We must come to the realization that our activity and busyness can be our greatest enemy. We need to create space where we can listen to our heart. We must pay attention to our thought life. We must ask God to reveal to us what it is that we care about the most. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that most of us will go though life and refuse to do this hard work of naming our greatest desire.
  • But if we travel down this lonely path then we need to be ready for heavy doses of pain. This desire that we treasure above all others will not leave our life without kicking and screaming. We must be ready for spiritual warfare and it can not be entered into lightly. Recently there has been research that has shown that our addictions actually change the way that our brain works. Leaving these false lovers will be one of the hardest things we ever do.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas as you think about what your greatest desire truly is.

Your depression (anxiety, anger, irritability) might be talking to you

One of the most important questions we can ask and answer is this, “what do you want?”

If you were to spend 5 minutes quietly pondering the answer to this question what do you think your answer would be? Not the answer you think is safe to share with others. Not the Sunday School answer. Just the cold, hard, truth.

If you are feeling depressed (anxious, angry, irritable, etc.) there is a decent chance that the reason is because there is a desire that is unmet in your life.

This leads me to a four thoughts/ideas…

One, many times we are so busy in life that we are not in touch with what is truly going on in our own heart. We are feeling things, strong emotions, but we are unsure of where they are coming from because we are moving too fast. We are too distracted. This, seems to me, to be a very dangerous way to live. We must seek to understand what is truly going on in our heart and how it is impacting the way we live everyday life.

Two, we will need to prayerfully consider if this unmet desire is something that is good for us to have. There are plenty of things our sinful nature craves that we simply should not have. 

Three, perhaps it is a good desire and we need to actively work towards making it a reality in our life. A desire for a better job to provide for your family. Maybe it is just to have a family in the first place. God has created us as humans with strong desires and emotions. The Christian life is not about stuffing our desires deep down and acting like they don’t exist. The poet, David Whyte, calls this the “devouring animal of our disowned desire.” Simply acting like our desires are not there, running from them, not dealing with them, will end up causing us greater pain and misery in the long run.

Four, it’s possible that it is a good desire but God, in all of his sovereignty, has decided that we should not have it. There are going to be times in life when we believe with all of our heart that what we want is a good thing. The desire to be healed of an illness is good and understandable. It certainly is appropriate to pray for these things, yet we must come to the place where we hold them with open hands. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul laid before God a very important prayer request. Each and every time Paul prayed the answer was no. If God says no we must (as hard as it might be) learn to trust in his goodness.

I guess my point is that we all need to slow down and do a better job of listening to our heart. Spend time alone with God. Communicate our longings, our desires to him. There is nothing going on inside of us that will surprise him or that he can’t handle.

What is your depression, anxiety, anger, irritability saying to you?

BTW: Clearly depression is not always caused by unmet expectations. There can be a variety of reasons (some physiological) that leads to a person feeling depressed.