“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – Who forgives all our sins and heals all your diseases. Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103: 2-5 (NIV)
Months ago a young woman who was dog-sitting our ancient beloved Belle lost a pearl ring in the house. Both of us searched for it extensively without success, and I expect she thought it was lost forever. Then this week while I was looking for a dropped vitamin, I ran my fingers across the bottom of a large basket that holds my favorite red throw next to the couch. Low and behold, I felt something stuck in the wicker weaving. The lost ring!
It made me think of the things we want and their fulfillment. (Or not.) Since early childhood most of my life was focused on my wants. Some of them were huge, life-affirming essentials, like for my mother to still be alive. Others were big deal, but unnecessary wants, like the pony I got for my 10th birthday. Many were everyday wants, like going swimming or spending time with my dad.
Eventually, my wants morphed into driving needs whose fulfillment felt like survival – coping mechanisms that nearly destroyed me. I came to believe that my wants were bad things. My attempts to fulfill them were certainly damaging, and my shame (along with a strong foundation of Protestant Reformation asceticism) told me the wants themselves were evil.
Recovery brought the grace of spirituality and ultimately a reframing of my view of God as compassionate and benevolent. In time I understood that the wants themselves weren’t the problem; the reckless pursuit of their immediate satisfaction is the problem. It is an ongoing process to surrender the desires of my heart to a loving God and to wait often in the space of not yet for their fulfillment.
Today I have a deep longing for Bethesda Workshops to occupy our own dedicated space. For healing for those I love. For truth to be recognized and acted on. For ease of the heavy burden I shoulder and then find chafing. And I want those things NOW.
Yet the deepest longing of my heart is to be wholly connected to a sustaining God. To feel God’s presence pierce the darkness and smooth the jagged edges between faith and doubt. I know, too, that the “good things” God promises don’t always look like I expect, which is the most unnerving, anxiety producing part of faith. Some days the overbearing weight feels crushing.
Then I find a simple pearl ring, one that didn’t even belong to me. And in that moment of certainty I receive a deep grace of youthful renewal like the strong lift of an eagle’s wings.