Real Life | What We Long For

If we were to sit down for coffee smoothies today {what fun! can we do that?!}, here's what I would say:

I'm the kind of person who sets super high goals, has crazy expectations for myself and others, and very often gets burnt out and depressed. Why do I keep doing that? I know it's crazy. 

I'll get super ambitious and start a business, or write and self-publish an ebook, or plan nutty-long trips solo parenting and camping with my boys. Daily I try to do all the things -- healthy meals from scratch, exercise, teach the kids, outings, enjoy hobbies, love my husband, volunteer, et al. Some days go great {yay for them}, but really, if I'm being honest, I often end up a crying, discouraged mess at the end of most days. I just try to do too much. Toooooo much.

I get out of balance. I neglect important things like journaling and prayer. I neglect friendships that need to be fostered. I finish days feeling frazzled and lonely. And I feel like I'm doing a half-job at everything, failing at all of it, because I'm just not giving anything my best.

This bothers me. Of course. Emily recently posted about this and asked her readers to consider what bothers them because -- "Admitting what bothers me exposes what I most deeply long for. When I know what I long for, I become more fully alive." Emily Freeman

Being fully alive is one of the lofty goals that seems impossible to reach as a parent. Or maybe hard to reach for just about everyone? Maybe I'm just in this space and that's all I know. But this quest for fulfillment and satisfaction is what drives me to add a million and one things into an already busy life. And this desire to live fully alive is what eventually takes me down the path to depression and burn-out. Again and again.

There's a vicious cycle for ya. So maybe I'm longing for the wrong things? Maybe this inner longing stuff needs to be fleshed out and analyzed a bit.

I long for job satisfaction and fulfilling work.
I long for meaningful conversation.
I long for success.
I long for adventure.
I long for purpose in life.
I long for affirmation.

Those moments where the sun makes their faces glow and they love what I just baked for them and the house is clean and there's just this feeling of harmony all around. Yeah. I long for that.

But really, when I dig down to the bottom of my longings, I long for a powerful connection with God. And when I realize that, when I see how all the other things I think I want point up to what I really want, priorities start to fall into place.

When I start the day with time carved out for God's Word to speak to me, I lose that anxious throbbing ambition to do All. The. Things.

^^photos from our very restful and fun time with friends in Riverside

When I start the day with God, there is calm. There is purpose. There is wisdom. There is affirmation. There is meaning. There is adventure. There is fulfillment. All there, waiting for me. And if I start in the right place, I can move on to cooking and teaching and exercising and outings and loving with a FULL cup of joy.

So I'm not looking to be filled up by the things I do, but spend my day happily emptying out a heart that has been filled with love from God. 
"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."  Psalm 90:14 

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11
There are indeed practices that increase our joy -- flexing the muscle of optimism, developing a habit of gratitude, getting outside often. But the most important joy-bringer is God.

So. What bothers me is my frazzled, harried, distracted search for meaning and purpose and success and connection. What bothers me is my desperate grasping after things that don't satisfy. What I really long for is the wisdom and power and love and joy that comes from time spent with Jesus. And this makes me feel fully alive because I can spend my day knowing that my longings have already been satisfied. I can make muffins and teach arithmetic and sew blankets, but not because I have to in order to be loved or to find satisfaction.

I went off on an adventure with my boys searching for something. But it wasn't out there. I felt like I needed to escape, to run away from the routines that bind us. But the feeling of being bound by the constraints of time and space and hunger remained.

What we long for isn't earthly. All the beauty and freedom in the whole world won't be enough to quiet the desires of our hearts. We want heaven. We want Jesus. We want eternal life.

Knowing this puts life's tasks in their right places.