We got our first Christmas catalog in the mail the other day.
I watched both my kids sit down and look at it closely, turning the pages slowly as they examined pictures of wooden trains, baby dolls, building sets, books, games, and the plethora of normal that is the American child’s dream. They’re little still and only just beginning this Christmas thing. We didn’t talk about it but it made me wonder about how we might later handle the Christmas season with all its wants and needs; coming face to face with our desires and teaching our kids what it means to live in and around those wants.
Because wants are always around. And they’re not always bad, but they’re not always good.
“The depravity of man is only the realization of the hollow, the need. Depravity should only imply that we can be filled with God. I wish I had known.”
– Amber C. Haines, Wild in the Hollow, p.57.
The heavy places of desire make this word difficult for me to tackle. Laden with nuance and then burdened with cultural implications deeper than the word itself; in Christian circles, we struggle with, but mostly against, desires. We build pens around them hoping enough rules will keep us from going an admittedly subjective “too far”. We fight desire and are left off-balance, tripping along to our own foolishness as we try to work our way to being holy.
We are told the dangers of what lies within us so often and so forcefully it’s easy to lose touch with what might be good. We shove our desires and then our feelings, and then our wants, and sometimes even our needs deeper and deeper until they’re lost to us. A casualty of too much trying to be holy. We lose ourselves.
This asceticism of some christianity feels dangerous. We can’t become so detached from our own humanity and expect to live well in this embodied world. But desire feels just as dangerous as often it leads us to painful ends.
But God created us with these bodies that want, minds that dream, hearts that hope, and souls with a touch of eternity. Who are we to abandon this creation of His, whether it feels full and holy to us or not it is who we are and who He made us to be.
“There is hardly healing of the self outside the church because the Spirit always moves us forward into living as our whole selves, as friends who love what he loves, and he loves us. He makes us whole as individuals, and then we propelled forward with desire to be healing agents of his kingdom. It is about the whole of us, global.”
Amber C. Haines, Wild in the Hollow, p.183
We long to be whole. We chase what we want because we long to be whole. We chase but are still left incomplete. We know that beauty doesn’t fill. Popularity doesn’t satiate. Relationships don’t complete. Experiences don’t last. Family isn’t perfect or forever. And perfection in anything only runs further away the harder you pursue it. These things by themselves break us into more pieces when we long for healing. Our emptiness is only intensified.
Maybe these empty places are showing us more about who God is and what he desires for us than we might think.
So why not reach toward the place we can be filled, the One who can fill us.
“It may take exposing the hollowness of our own desire to know the satisfaction of the wild love of God.”
Amber C. Haines, Wild in the Hollow, p.168
This is where the contemplation of desire takes me. I’m not sure what it means for me or how I mother, but I know a little better how encountering my own humanity and the humanity of those around me head on can help to find more of who HE is.
Two books I gladly recommend on the theme of desire and embodiedness:
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