Longing: What does it want from me? This insistent ache, at night, weighting the chest like an X-ray apron.
This unfocused energy, jangling as a florescent tube on the fritz.
Sometimes vintage dreams from our youth resurface—dreams we buried. Maybe afterward we conjured a mental white-out to shield the soul, preclude further disappointment.
Or we sacrificed personal hopes for family. Career. We made our exit, gracefully or otherwise.
If the old longing remains, maybe it bears reconsidering.
Or perhaps we lost our nerve. Or our faith. (Who were we to ________?)
Now, from the other side of that door we closed, a voice keeps murmuring. What if it’s God?
“Longing, when it is not used for fuel for the spirit, soon turns the heart away from love in the direction of anger and grief.” (Sibyl Dana Reynolds, Ink and Honey.)
Does regret taint our longing?
- If only I’d finished ___, by now I’d be . . .
- If only I’d never ___, I might finally . . .
- If I ate less and exercised more, I’d feel . . .
- If I could really believe/remember/forget____, I would . . .
- If only I paid more attention to ___, I could . . .
Pastor Eric Peterson says, “God calls us to be someone we don’t yet believe we can be.”
Trouble is, regret hampers personal transformation. So I’m making a game of sussing it out.
I picked phrases from the list above, then finished each one 20 times, writing quickly to prevent censoring myself.
As part of prayerful follow-up, I summoned reason. (e.g. Am I really too ____? Are my expectations misguided, ill-timed, or off-base?)
Then (the fun part) I rewrote those pesky If onlys. Flipped each one on its back like a June bug. Then let the ideas buzz.
What ifs provide springboards for joy. Possibility. Scope.
- What if I forgive____ and myself
- Soften expectations and rest more
- Hire some help
- Revisit that project I shelved
- Buy forgiving clothes in fabulous fabrics
Then where might longing point?
“Let your longing lead you, not defeat you,” Reynolds goes on. “Use longing as the blacksmith uses fire to forge iron into a pot or kettle. Make something of it.”
Moving into a calling includes waiting for God’s direction and timing. Good thing “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Waiting is not an obvious talent of mine.
Ebb or flow, longing is fluid.
Check out these ice doilies. Even fragile edges catch light. A spring feeds the neighborhood pond, so it never freezes completely. Water at one end sluices through pipe a neighbor embedded beneath the road, channeling overflow downstream, into the creek.
Despite layers of ice, spring-fed water keeps moving, taking on new shapes, making its way around obstacles.
Meanwhile, I hold steady, faithfully do the small things before me, wait for what comes next.
“Set about your work in the world,” Reynolds says. “Longing asks you to rise up and bring forth your wonders and treasures.”
What wellspring within you seeks an outlet? Are you currently called to rest in the unknowing?
A new artist/writer friend also posted today on “What if.” Find her here: https://kelrohlf.wordpress.com/author/kelrohlf/