It happens every year about the time I should be brimming with a deep well of gratitude and nurturing an abiding, holy contentment—the William-Sonoma and Pottery Barn catalogs pour into my mailbox. I am caught on my stoop momentarily fixated. I confess, I have a deep feminine desire for beauty, and those ads can make me want to crawl right inside the first page. My dreamy gaze on the glossy image is interrupted by a menagerie of Playmobil and legos strewn across the entirety of the living room as I re-enter my front door. The loud squabbling of little boys punctuates the ambiance of my little house. Without thinking, I can wonder when this life, or at least just our floors, will ever resonate the ideal presented within those catalogs. The pang of longing presses in seemingly uninvited, and I fume a bit, silently.
I begin an internal dialogue with Jesus about my floors and my raucous, messy family. Luckily, I know him well enough to know that he cares about my cares. Somewhere small and still, I am aware of the real pivotal, underlying questions: what is this deep longing that calls out mid-morning? And where do I go with it? I am reminded of the original struggle: Adam and Eve questioned God’s love for them by distrusting their provision and limitations. They relinquished the gift of authentic abundance to a false ideal and gave away their God-given identity. They walked away from the gift that had already been given—complete communion with God.
The grasping for ideal order or a quick beauty fix tethers me to a lie as old as the garden.
Yet, the longing in my core is not itself the problem.
How many times have I thought the gaping problem was the house (outward stuff), the kids (fleeting behaviors), or my own inability to just keep it together (my ability to perform )? The ache for eternal beauty is a desire that the Holy Spirit faithfully uses to draw me. It is a need met by himself in the depths of my heart, not “out there” on my living room floor or ordered up from the world.
Only when I rightly attach my longings to the lover of my soul do I recover my straying heart and see my longing for what it is—an opportunity and call to commune more deeply with God.
When I draw close to the reservoir of his love, his presence fills me, and I brim with gratitude to be his child, crowned with his loving-kindness, and held in his constant care.