Last night I sat in a room with some of my sisters in Christ—worshipping, learning, talking and praying together. My heart wept as I listened to sweet friends tearfully share desires kept safe in their hearts. Facing the stark reality of disappointment and struggling to keep hoping against hope. Wondering how to keep hands open when day after day they are found empty.
And I’ve been there in the place of closed hands, empty heart—waiting for my deepest hopes and finding only utter despair. Desires are odd, funny things. We keep them buried deep down under our piles of guilt and shame and felt unworthiness. Scared to even articulate them, to ask for them, to pray for them, to share them with our brothers and sisters in the Body. Maybe fearing that in doing so we set in motion some cosmic reverse psychology that ensures we’ll never experience them. Maybe feeling that we have no right to desire such things when our insides are coal-black and wicked. Maybe feeling that we could never deserve them because of what we’ve done or what’s been done to us. Maybe despairing of ever receiving them after so many seasons of expectant waiting. The not-good-enough of our hearts suffocating the yearning for the good, the beautiful, the Imago Dei.
And I’ve been there, in the place of deep hurt and stark need and unutterable longing. But don’t you see—can’t you understand that the very existence of these desires, yours and mine, is grace? That the eternal striving for the beautiful and the good merely reflects our soul-striving for our Jesus? Apart from Him, we would have no thirst for good things. No hunger for things that fill empty hands and give joy. Every good and perfect thing that we long for, receive, and experience in this life is grace and grace alone because it originates from the very Source of grace and good things. And both the longing for these gifts and the receiving of them serve to clarify the reflection in the smudged, blurry mirrors of our humanity that always seek to picture Him more clearly.
This is grace. And that is grace and the weeping and the yearning and the despairing and the heart-cry are grace. The hoping and the expecting and the waiting and oh! the receiving and the giving thanks—all are grace. Grace enveloping us, all around us as we inhale to receive and exhale to give and give thanks and it’s all grace.
And what of our desires, yours and mine? Can I really hold my precious longings up to heaven with open hands, expecting that they’ll be fulfilled and granted? Can I encourage you to do the same? I can’t pretend to know the future but I can say with certainty that if my Jesus wept before the Father with his desires unmet and unrealized then my tears are not met with shame and guilt. My heart-cries are not met with shrugging platitudes because my Father—my good, beautiful, perfect Father who is Love has promised me good, beautiful, perfect gifts and that’s a promise I can carry boldly to his throne and claim with confidence.
And I’ll be there again, in that familiar place of wanting and hoping and waiting. Maybe you’ll be there too, and together we’ll name our desires with tear-streaked faces and thrust up our waiting arms, hands open in confident expectation because we know that our Father delights in giving good and perfect gifts to His children.