How do I identify what I truly love? Where do I pinpoint my deepest desire?
First, I need to identify what I need: food, shelter, clothing, safety. Depending on my situation, I might spend a lot of my life trying to maintain basic needs. If I have to work two jobs to feed my family, it might look to an outsider as if I love to work. But really, I love my family enough to sacrifice my own rest and comfort to provide for them. Or, if I am recovering from a trauma—from the distant past or from yesterday—my immediate desire is to find solace, order, and some sense of healing. I might appear self-absorbed to someone outside looking in, but really I am tending to my basic emotional needs. Our deeper desires—the ones attached to divine purpose and to our very design as human beings—these take us much further than basic needs.
That doesn’t mean we should feel guilty for having to spend so much time and energy on needs. It does mean that we can ask probing questions about what our ultimate goals are. If I discover that my ultimate goal is to give my children a good start in life, then perhaps I can work those two jobs, supported by the sense that I am doing exactly what I should be doing. If I discover that my ultimate goal is to be high functioning enough to help others and make the world a better place, then my years of therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder become much more than me looking out for my own needs—they take me toward healing that can then, in turn, help others to heal.
Sometimes we avoid thinking about our deepest desires because we’re afraid they will be impossible to attain. But I believe—and St. Ignatius believed it, too—that our deepest desires take us straight to the heart of God. And when we land in that infinite heart, we find ourselves participating in a process much broader and deeper than any one life. We are allowing divine love to strengthen our own love.
- What is your experience of encountering your own deep desires?
- If someone wanted help discovering their desires, how would you advise that person?
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