Something happened to me today that changed everything. Something I sort of knew shook loose from my head and slipped down through and got lodged deep inside my heart.
That something was this. Every single dream, every wish, each random longing, each fleeting fantasy, every daydream, each sadness, every hope, and the sum total of all the angst I feel, have felt, or will ever feel is no more than a simple expression of a singular truth. My heart was meant to love God.
Desire justly recognized, understood, and set free turns like a heat-seeking missile toward God. And in the turning it is transformed until sorrow and joy are stirred and churned and dissolved into a solution of hope and satisfaction and the heart pulls closer.
Trust me on this. Set your pain free. We know deep down that things are not what things were meant to be. We grasp for love because God longs to draw us to Him. We seek solace in food or drink or sex because God means to comfort us with divine compassion. We hunger to be seen, sought after, or respected because God stamped His image on our souls and waits patiently to unveil His glory in us.
I saw God today. I walked with Him. And for a moment it all made sense.
“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother which is the first commandment with a promise; that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land the Lord is giving you.” I’m 41 years old and I can’t tell you what that verse means. I can’t tell you because I don’t know, even though I desperately want to. I know what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean what I was taught. My mother translated this verse for me very consistently over many long years. I can’t remember the words she used, but I can tell you the message I got. The words were sometimes confusing, but the message was loud and clear. “Children obey your parents”. That’s the easy part. Anyone can obey. Your mother tells you what to do and you do it. “Honor your father and your mother”. That’s the challenge. To honor means to want what she tells you to want. To honor means to feel what she tells you to feel. If you do this, God loves you. If you don’t, He doesn’t.
On my twelfth birthday my mom called me into her bedroom. She held a blank piece of paper and a pen in her hands. She smiled an overly-sweet smile at me. “Lisa”, she said, “I have a very special birthday present for you this year. This is what I want you to do. Take this piece of paper and go to your room. Write down everything you want. Make the list as long as you want. Write down everything you’ve ever hoped and wished for, even a very little bit. When you’ve done that, bring it back to me.”
I did what she said. I came back and handed her my list full of dreams. She pushed the paper right back to me and said. “Now this is what I want you to do. Go back to your room and look at the first thing on the list. Really think about that thing. Think about what’s wrong with it. Think about it broken and dirty. You don’t really need it. It’s useless. It’s more trouble than it’s worth. Think about it that way until you don’t want it anymore. Then think about the next thing on your list the same way. Do it with everything, the whole list. When you’re finished you’ll have my gift. My birthday present to you this year is the secret to happiness. It’s Contentment.”
So I went back to my room. I did what she said. I went through my list. And I un-Wished myself.