Restless Hearts

From Dan Allender’s book Bold Love:

“Lustful fantasies are an effort to escape the humdrum daily grind of cleaning up Play-Doh and washing the 1,000th diaper… Fantasies are private magic carpets that serve to deliver the soul from boredom, anxiety, anger, loneliness, and rage to a “better” world that offers momentary relief and satisfaction…

Lust is the effort to possess another in order to steal enough passion to be lifted out of our current struggles into a world that feels (for an instant) like the Garden of Eden…lust is our effort to push our way back into the garden…

Lust is the union-that is, a desire to be absorbed into another. It is an odd conjunction of desire that seeks to be both very full of one’s self and simultaneously lost in the warmth and strength of another. An orgasm is a paradigm of this apparent contradiction. An orgasm is a release of tension; the tension intensifies both a sense of desire and a sense of oneself; the eventual relief dispels the tension in a constriction of excitement that brings a loss of oneself in the wash of well-being. Our hearts desperately long for Eden. We want fullness of self that removes the stark, brittle light of self-consciousness. Our hearts, in other words, live for an experience of worship that fills our beings with a joy that is so deeply in awe of the other that we are barely aware of ourselves. Sexual immorality, or adulterous lust, provides a tragic counterfeit of a loss of self that also enhances the self. It inevitably leads to even more empty, self-consuming despair. Lust is the fallen desire for union gone mad. Lust may be sexual, but it may also be directed toward a person or object in a nonsexual manner. Lust may be directed toward a person, object, position, or state. Many lust after being happy (state); others lust after reputation (position), antiques (objects), or people. In any case, destructive lust involves the heart of a thief whose passion is to be satisfied, not the heart of a lover whose desire is to give…

Lust almost always becomes perverse. Perversion is the wedding of lust and rage. The soul is never satisfied with the taste of pleasure; it demands to be satiated. When unrequited hunger mingles with the fury of wanting someone to pay for the pain of emptiness we are forced to experience, a tumultuous interplay of violence and passion is fused that simultaneously seeks to use and destroy.”

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Augustine of HippoConfessions

As I read these quotes, it gives, me better clarity into the longings of my own restless heart. 

There are so many things my heart has longed for since I was just a little girl. 

To feel that I belonged to someone.  Being adopted, I often felt I was on the outside looking in and like something was missing.

To feel like I mattered.  Often times my parents in dealing with their own pain just wanted me to stay out of the way.

To be special.  I was used in terrible ways to fulfill the longings of an abusive man’s heart.  Deep inside I felt dirty and like a used up drink container, emptied and thrown into the garbage.

And then my former pastor came into my life telling me all the things I wish I’d heard growing up and my heart felt so alive.  

But as Dan Allender says our souls can never be satisfied with the taste of pleasure.  The lust grows and takes on a life of its own. Our heart becomes an angry thief willing to fulfill its insatiable hunger any way that it can.  And it leads to more emptiness and despair and violence.

Dan Allender says our restless hearts are longing for Eden. 

My mind can only scratch the surface in imagining a place where perfect human beings experienced perfect fellowship with God in a perfect environment. 

I think of my restless heart in the early days when I just wanted to be with my former pastor.  He’d hug me and everything in the world seemed right.  I believed my heart was joined with his.  But I always had to leave and the emptiness consumed me and I lived for the next time I could see him.

I fantasized about a place where I’d never be without him.  Where perfect uninterrupted oneness would always exist, and I’d never have to feel alone again.  The thoughts I had caused me to feel so foolish and ashamed, but they also give me clarity into what it is that my desperate heart really wants.

What I really want is what I was created for.  And the only thing that will ever satisfy; An unbroken oneness with the Creator of the universe Who created me just for Him.  I’m made in His image with vision, purpose, creativity and beauty.  I belong to Him.  I matter very much to Him. I am His special treasure.  He loves me and gives to me His kingdom.  He is everything my heart longs for and in His arms I will rest forever.

Though I can’t experience that place completely now in this broken body – somewhere in another realm God says I am already there.  It’s a mystery that on this side of heaven I’ll never understand, but I know one day I’ll see clearly.

In the meantime, while I wait looking into a mirror dimly, He  wants me to see that He has dressed me in the finest wedding gown of His righteousness, and I need not ever be ashamed again.  He gave everything so that I could be united with Him.  He knew I couldn’t make it on my own  – though Lord knows, I tried. 

The ache of my restless heart is still there and will be as long as I live in this broken body, only now I recognize the feeling is a clear evidence that one day my unseen hope will be seen.  One day I shall see His face.

I used to sing the song “I Am” by Nicole Nordemon for my former pastor at church.  He’d listen to me sing it and cry.   I think back on those times and realize that maybe his heart was longing for the same thing mine was. 

Listening to this song last week brought all kinds of feelings up in my heart; great loss and sorrow, shame and sadness.  But then I looked to God and told Him that he was the only I AM I’d ever need and felt better.

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