Longing

“Maybe he'll say I'm beautiful,”With dreaming eyes she mused, unfiltered by age, unfiltered by pride, her heart’s longings spoken into space.

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“Oh, honey, you are.” With earnesty I spoke, running my hands over her tender brow.

“Maybe he’ll say it, maybe he won’t, but either way God made you beautiful, my love, and you are, whether he says it or not.” Cliche words I felt, so simple, but once again I was humbled by this enormous responsibility of motherhood.

longing_0002 “Yea. But maybe he will.” Unfazed by my caution, innocence stood in front of me, the human heart exposed.

longing_0003 Isn’t this what we all feel, isn’t this what we all feel daily? I was amazed at how young it had begun, it doesn't matter the person, didn't matter the situation, but here she was before me, five years young, feeling that thing we all feel, that thing we all fear to feel.

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And I was undone.

Because as much as I could speak my admiration, my devotion, I know this yearning. I hear the same longing in my own heart. The want, the need to be known, approved, accepted.

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“Maybe she’ll like this, retweet this, repin it, comment, double tap; what if she even followed me?” “Maybe he’ll take notice, recognize, finally think I’ve made it.” “Maybe she’ll admire me, compliment me, say what I’ve always wanted to hear.” “Maybe he’ll appreciate me, wrap his arms more tightly around me, his eyes never leaving mine.” “Maybe they’ll invite me, include me, want me.” “How can I make sure I’ll never be forgotten?”

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We’ve all been there. While it looks different, the basic yearning is the same, the motivation behind the need for perfect, the constant dreaming of where the grass is greener, the consistent need for approval, this obsession with needing more, wanderlust of the heart. We live it as consumption as we work our way up a ladder, the motivation to fit into a different size, seeking real friends who know our hearts, the longing for a deeper connection with the ones who say they love us.

My husband and I find ourselves there often, find ourselves in the valley of the journey. The hunger burns, the dissatisfaction, the uncomfortable squirming for more, for better, all to hear that we are the best. When the career isn’t challenging, exciting, promising enough, when the dream seems unreachable, untouchable or the enamorment has dulled, and it too has disappointed. When family is frustrating, overwhelming. When we ourselves are not the safety net, the number one fan, the tender, adoring hold for the other. Sometimes it creeps in, sometimes it storms in, but a dark, unrelenting sense of rejection is so quickly ushered in, when our greatest hopes, our most earnest reaching, our deepest longings are misplaced on the temporary and thus unrealized, unmet, by another fallible being, by a fallible world.

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It’s the most stripped down, rawness of human nature, this desire for approval, for belonging. And yet, while its natural, for we were created to be loved, it is vicious.

The yearning, the desire, the hope to be fully understood, to have our heart fully known, totally approved and completely accepted.

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And in case we so short-sightedly think our Jesus walking the earth didn’t know such ache, I reflect on His darkest hour, the moment where the entire purpose of His existence hung in the balance, I hear his longing for comfort. Knowing the excruciating torture ahead, He gathered with those who knew Him best, with those who had promised their belief, their loyalty, their life.

Then Jesus went with the disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, "Stay here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and Zebedee's two sons with him. He was beginning to feel deep anguish. Then he said to them, "My anguish is so great that I feel as if I'm dying. Wait here, and stay awake with me." After walking a little farther, he quickly bowed with his face to the ground and prayed, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. But let your will be done rather than mine." When he went back to the disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Couldn't you stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake, and pray that you won't be tempted. You want to do what's right, but you're weak." Then he went away a second time and prayed, "Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, let your will be done." He found them asleep again because they couldn't keep their eyes open.” Matthew 26

Even He felt the isolation.

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So they arrested Jesus and led him away to the chief priest's house. Peter followed at a distance. Some men had lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard. As they sat together, Peter sat among them. A female servant saw him as he sat facing the glow of the fire. She stared at him and said, “This man was with Jesus.” But Peter denied it by saying, “I don’t know him, woman.” A little later someone else saw Peter and said, “You are one of them.” But Peter said, “Not me!” About an hour later another person insisted, “It’s obvious that this man was with him. He’s a Galilean!” But Peter said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Luke 22

Even He faced the betrayal.

longing_0009 Despised and accused He stood before the King. Pilate, torn in what He knew, in what He believed, surrendered the choice of Jesus’ fate to the people.

“After Pilate said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, "I don't find this man guilty of anything. You have a custom that I should free one person for you at Passover. Would you like me to free the king of the Jews for you?" The Jews shouted again, "Don't free this man! Free Barabbas!" John 18

Passed over for a murderer, even He was rejected.

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He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.… Isaiah 53

He, in His glory, He in His mercy, He Himself has felt the pain. And when it threatened to consume, He set His gaze on where He belonged.

“Let your will be done, not mine.”

He said, submitting the emotions of the human heart. And with His dying breath, He surrendered to His Father. “Into Your hands I commit my Spirit.” Luke 23:46

He knew the pain, He felt it fully, and yet, His strength came from the joy set before Him. His endurance lasted because He knew the pain was to fade, because this was not His home.

For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12.

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See, I believe that though the longing, the yearning is natural, the pain is not. It only creeps in when I lose focus and allow myself to think that somehow I am to be completed by the temporary, someone fallible, something here.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” - C.S. Lewis

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What comfort is received, what hope is realized when we embrace the truth that the pining we feel, the yearning we suffer, it’s because our heart is not at home. And Home is yet to come.

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What tender truth is found in the words of this old hymn,

O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;

Daily, daily I’m found in grace as daily, daily my heart needs this binding. I let my mind settle, my heart rest,

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My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

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Years ago I stopped mid-run to watch a butterfly struggling across a rocky, muddy stream. Tapping, searching legs extended, she would flap once, twice to rid herself of the muck trapping each step, lifting a few inches in the air, but then, back again, timid, she would land on the ground to strive and flounder. She was not made for the ground, she was not made for this. If only she would abandon the muck, the expected, the safety of what she could see, she would uninhibited, fly in glory, soar in who she was created to be.

longing_0014 Even now, ten years later, I remember watching her and hearing the still quiet voice in my heart. “You, like her, were meant to fly.” By soaring in the sun of the Son, we can’t feel the cold of the shadows. Their whispers of rejection, of unrequited desire are consumed and fade when I tune my heart to the song of love over me.

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And so, I hum the sweet tune, the adage I cling to, With Christ, my Savior, my Creator, my Acceptor, my Friend, my Love, I stand. He’s solid, He’s never-changing, He’s unmoving. And He’s accepted me.

longing_0022 And, together, against the storm of expectations, accusations, disillusionments, misunderstandings, dissatisfactions, incompletions, we stand. And, with my heart bound to Him,

longing_0021 we soar.

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