By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
What if this sacred yes you’ve dared to say is forming within you the deepest joy you’ve yearned to feel? What if it matters? What if it is about fullest life? What if it is the meaning you’ve been chasing, the vision you’ve been straining to see? What if you’ve said yes to what is most real, most alive, most true in your own soul?
Slowly, slowly, slowly I am learning that divine vocation is to discover and live the truest version of myself. God calls us all to be who we really are. This can be difficult to understand in a culture saturated with individualism. This is an invitation to the core of the soul, to the substance we seek. When we get to the center of our deepest being we discover the home of the Holy, which has been resident all along.
It is here in this sacred center that we recover the spark for life that can grow dim from all the insecurities and expectations we’ve layered upon it. The Advent journey toward the great light might be an interior one. In darkest times, this flame will not die. The world is aching for more souls to catch fire.
Especially at Christmas, I can quickly spout off a list of surface level wants. The advertisements sneaking their way into every part of life offer suggestions too. More layers on the divine flame within, distractions from the deepest desire seeking to claim me.
When we give ourselves over to the call of the Holy forming unseen within, we can trust that it is what we want, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. This isn’t divine manipulation. God never calls us to be who we aren’t. What we carry within us is not another obligation waiting to consume more of our energy and time. The call of God is fullest life, always, even in death. It may take time, and courage, to let the layers of shallow desires fall away to discover the One thing for which we truly yearn. “The soul,” writes Mark Thibodeaux, “is the place where God’s desires and my desires intersect.” What is deepest in us is not in conflict with the dream of God for the world.
In moments, the reign of God couldn’t seem further away. It is clear, just from watching the evening news, that there is much to be done. How do you explain that even in the midst of devastation, the deepest call of the Holy in our lives springs forth from what brings us true joy? Frederick Buechner says it well, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
I have a hard time naming this deep desire, this deep gladness. It feels selfish at first, which may be an indication that I haven’t properly named it yet. I have to remind myself that this is more than something I want on a whim. It is the steadying orientation of my heart in God. What I also uncover slowly, slowly, slowly is that the heart of God within me is also the heart of all life. My welfare resides in the welfare of all. This is another sure way to determine the authenticity of the desire you seek. Does it bring you joy? Does it confront what is false in you? Does it lead toward the welfare of all?
This Advent, how does your sacred yes lead to fullest life? How is God inviting you to offer yourself from a place of deep joy rather than obligation?
What is it, really, that you hope for? Repeat this question in your soul more than once.
How does this deepest desire within you make brighter a darkened world?