Desire, has gained an unfortunate name for itself within the American church. Many people believe that desire, like the body, is the extension of our own evil. I believe wholeheartedly, that the Christian faith is not about building a relationship with God (through theology, through works) but of having a desire for God, a desire for life. The beauty of Jesus portrays this so well when he invites us to seek, ask, and knock for God. The seeking, asking, and knocking is not a matter of working our way into a relationship with him, but it is a conscious desire. As Thomas Merton once said, “Faith is the sum of our desires.” What we place our faith in, is what we desire.
The recognition of what we desire is often a very unsettling place to be. It’s a place where we find that we have many gods, sitting next to God. This has been the power of praying for new desires with God. To do so, is the asking to open up a new space in us for the actual thing itself. This has been my own prayer through my lifelong battles of compulsion and obsession. It has been the place where I ask God to make space in me for inner peace, which then requires me to absorb the pain, failure, and despair that occupies it. To me, this is why every place of life has followed an occupancy of death. This is our baptism, our experience of death and resurrection. This is the hope of life.
When we open ourselves up to the hope of life, we not only find ourselves seeking new desires, but we remain present to the desires of others. The desire of God wanting a relationship with us, no longer seems like the obligation of what a Christian must do, but is the beauty that sustains our life. God desires our whole subjective life. He wants to renew us body, mind, and soul. The interconnectedness of these things are what makes up the spiritual life. To remain present to that hope of life, opens us up to the desires of others. Just as we are open to loving others, we are opened to being loved by others. To desire God, is to not only desire others, but to be desired by others. Not in the negative sense where we create them into idols and our source of life, but of being the place where we mutually offer our life and receive their own life. The love of another human being ought to reveal to you the beauty of your own existence. Likewise, it ought to open you up to the beauty of theirs. This is why love is the consistent passing of life from one person to the other.
We are shaped by the desires we seek. The way we desire God, is how we are shaped by God. How we desire others, is how we ourselves will be shaped. To be present to the beauty of God and others, and to find and desire the mutually sharing of it, is what makes the human life worth living.