Our society has bought into the philosophy that there is (or ought to be) a remedy (preferably quick and easy) for every unfulfilled longing.
We are encouraged to identify our longings and do whatever is necessary to get those “needs” met. Therefore... if you’re hungry, eat. If you want something you can’t afford, charge it. If you crave romance, dress or act in a way that will get men to notice you. If you’re lonely, share your heart with that married man at work.
The next time you’re in the grocery store, take a quick look at the women’s magazines at the checkout counter. The covers are filled with offers that promise to satisfy all your longings:
- 99 Ways to Look Better, Feel Better, Enjoy Life More!
- Snack Off Weight
- Look Gorgeous When It’s 100 Degrees
- 25 Secrets to Looking Young
- The Easy Life: Fun Jobs, Cool Dresses, Wild Fantasies, and Smart
At best, this way of thinking has left many women still unfulfilled, still groping, still searching for something to fill the inner emptiness.
At its worst, this deception has caused enormous heartache and bondage. It is at the heart of much anxiety, resentment, and depression. This lie has led countless women to trade in their virginity for a warm body and the promise of companionship. It has led married women to seek fulfillment in the arms of a man at work who claimed to care about her feelings. It has led many young people down the aisle of a church to exchange wedding vows for all the wrong reasons. And it has led a high percentage of those same couples down the aisle of a divorce court—all in an effort to satisfy their deep, unfulfilled inner longings.
“Carmen” shares where this lie led her:
Believing that I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings, I got what I wanted when I wanted it. Clothes, trips to Europe, or weekends away—put on credit cards or financed some way, until I had approximately $7,000-$10,000 debt by the time I was twenty-two. The other thing I desired and felt like I needed now was a man—consequently, I would date men I was not even interested in or men that I knew only wanted to sleep with me. To have dates, I would occasionally go ahead and have sex just to feel accepted.
What is the truth that sets us free from the bondage of this deception?
First, we have to recognize that we will always have unfulfilled longings this side of heaven (Romans 8:23). In fact, if we could have all our longings fulfilled down here, we would easily be satisfied with staying here, and our hearts would never long for a better place.
It is important to understand that our inner longings are not necessarily sinful in and of themselves. What is wrong is demanding that those longings be fulfilled here and now, or insisting on meeting those longings in illegitimate ways.
Until God provides the legitimate context to fulfill our longings, we must learn to be content with unfulfilled longings.
The second truth is that the deepest longings of our hearts cannot be filled by any created person or thing. This is one of the most liberating truths I have discovered in my own pilgrimage. For years, I looked to people and circumstances to make me happy. Time after time, when they failed to come through, I would find myself disgruntled and disappointed.
The truth is, every created thing is guaranteed to disappoint us. Things can burn or break or be stolen or get lost. People can move or change or fail or die. It took the loss of some of my dearest loved ones some years ago to waken me to the truth that I would always live in a state of disappointment if I was looking to people to satisfy me at the core of my being.
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