("Desire," by Eamon Everall, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Book of Common Prayer, page 225
When I read this collect for the first time on Sunday, my first thought was, "HA! That one is an absolute snap for God, as far as I'm concerned, because I never desire much!"
It's odd. I honestly don't desire much, in terms of physical things.
This really shows through when I go eat out with friends, in the "Where do you want to eat?" question. I almost always answer, "Wherever you want is fine with me," unless I have eaten someplace the day before. Even then, I won't object to eating the same place twice if the other person really, really wants to eat there.
I am lucky in some ways, I suppose. I never have been all that jealous of other people--especially when it comes to "stuff." I've never begrudged anyone for having what I can't afford in any big way, I've never been terribly jealous of cars, clothes, trips, vacations, etc. when others are having them.
Oh, it's not that I can't be jealous. I certainly can. I occasionally have found myself jealous over the serenity of other people. I have been jealous about relationships. I have been jealous over the generosity of other people when I thought I was being generous and it turns out I was a big piker. I had a situation a while back where that happened--I thought I was being kind and generous, and someone came in out of the blue, swooped in, and trumped my generosity in a huge way--and I found myself kind of put out about that. I found myself thinking mean thoughts about that other person--that this was done to personally put my nose out of joint, or "get back at me." My ego got bruised, frankly. But over time I realized that this was probably not the case, and this was more about I had not been very thoughtful about the overall situation. Over time, I became satisfied with my piece in it. Yeah, I can become jealous, but it's pretty short-lived. I don't dwell on it very long. It's just kind of intense when it does happen.
But my little story above more or less illustrates my "desires" tend to be emotional outcomes, rather than things.
I'm afraid one of my biggest desires is to be right.
I really despise being wrong. My tendency is to equate it with being "insufficient" somehow.
My tendency is to equate respect with being right. My ego likes it when people say, "I knew you would know the answer to this." But where my ego gets me in trouble is when I am right, and I'm pretty sure someone else is wrong, and I become obsessed in proving to them I am right. I can be like a crazed terrier with a rat about that. Then I come off looking like either an idiot, or a nut. Neither is a particularly good outcome.
So really, even what I desire in emotional outcomes isn't all that good for me. For God to surpass that is a very, very welcome event, indeed!
Something that has become quite apparent to me, especially in the last couple of months, is when I accept the possibility that being content does not necessarily have to be coupled to being right, I open myself up to a different scale of economy--the economy of the Beatitudes.
There's a wonderful Greek word for this--"hupomone." It means "The art of staying with what is happening." Now, it doesn't mean "roll over and be all codependent." I think sometimes when we read the Beatitudes, we can mistakenly see them as a license to suffer and that "God loves a good codependent." It simply means to stay in the "now" of something. It means we can't foresee the future. What might feel like a "lose" at the moment it is happening, might not eventually result in a "lose" at all. I think about how, so many times, what I am initially feeling is happening without the insight of time and the "retrospectoscope." It means that if I insist on owning the "win," there's no room for other "winners." Who knows? Over time, I might discover something that made me miserable, if I simply stay with it, can be transformed into something that brings joy to the largest number of people possible.
The Buddhists would call this "mindfulness." The folks in 12 step programs would call this "aligning our will with the will of our Higher Power." So this is nothing exclusive to Christianity.
But the more I detach from the potential outcomes, I have come to realize that, yes indeed, we should let transformation begin with ourselves.