Six years ago, I read a book by John Eldredge, titled Journey of Desire. (Re-released in 2007 as Desire) At the time, I was going through a turbulent and heartbreaking relationship with my best friend, and sadly, our relationship eventually ended with a seismic break in one of the deepest friendships of my life.
For the first time in my life I needed answers, real and honest answers, on the topic of desire. I needed to know, in a practical way, how to handle my raw and unmet desires for this relationship. I needed to know how to cope with the delicate issue of desire, when what had just happened in my life was the complete opposite of what I wanted.
This book helped me tremendously throughout this difficult season of longing, hurt, and loss, and it has continued to shape and deepen my understanding of what desire is all about.
In a few short days, Tenley, my youngest daughter, my baby girl, will be turning one year old. I am a reflective sort of person, and milestones are hard for me. They always come with a mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy for what’s been given. Sorrow for what it seems, at least to me, is being lost.
As I look back on Tenley’s first year of life, from the moment I learned that she was one the way, to the first time I held her in my arms, to the all-present now, where her sweet smile and silly laugh have bewitched me body and soul, I know I have a lot to reflect upon. I feel a deep need to do this, to reflect. When I think of Tenley’s birthday, I can feel my heart clench. I’m excited for it, and I dread it at the same time.
Perhaps this sounds odd. Birthdays, after all, are supposed to be happy occasions. Nevertheless, this is how I feel. As Tenley’s birthday inches closer and closer, I can sense my feeling of dread increasing. “Why?” I ask myself. “Why do I feel this way?” The answer, I’ve come to realize, boils down to one thing: DESIRE.
C.S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory, the things “in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things…are good images of what we desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.”
For reasons I will explain over the course of the next three weeks, this quote describes what my life has looked like sense Tenley’s birth last September. On the day of Tenley’s arrival, my heart was broken when my longing to have a natural delivery did not come to fruition. In addition to this unmet desire, a misunderstanding of what my heart was truly longing for, paved the way for a long and difficult season of doubt, blame, sadness, regret and a nagging sense of failure.
Needless to say, it’s been a tough year for me. Fortunately, I haven’t faced this struggle alone. God has faithfully and patiently guided me through each phase of this journey. Piece by piece He is mending my heart and putting me back together.
In the weeks to come, I would like to share three pivotal experiences that have occurred along the way. The first relates to the ongoing ache of unmet desire, the second relates to what God is showing me about security and comfort, and finally, the third experience brings everything full circle by sharing what God is teaching me about grief, acceptance, and letting go.
This story is my own, unique to me, but broken dreams and unmet desires are written on the pages of everyone’s heart. It’s hard to put my experiences, my aches, and my longings into written words, but I hope these words will speak. I hope these words will tell the story of what God has done for me, of what God longs to do for us all. This is my journey of desire. May God use it to meet you, and speak to you, in the heart of yours.