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Discover Your Desires | Recognizing Resistance

On my twenty-sixth birthday, I realized that I have spent a decade fighting my Core Desires. 


Ever since I was sixteen years old, I’ve longed to be a wife and mother. For ten years, I have hoped for a family of my own and a creativity-based career. My dream has always been to cultivate a loving relationship with my future husband, raise kids according to our faith, and write pieces that brought joy to people.


However, whenever I thought about this dream, I felt guilty. Is it selfish for my dreams to be so self-focused and financially unprofitable? 


As a result, I’ve spent most of my life denying this desire, pretending it doesn’t have any power. I could go for months at a time without letting myself dwell on my true dream. I could invent new goals and try to “should” myself into prioritizing. I could shame myself for feeling unsatisfied until I convinced myself that I was fine.


However, the desire never died. I could not “deny it away.” 



Though some people might struggle with feeling enslaved to their desires, many of us are burdened by disconnection from our hearts. We resist vulnerability by refusing to acknowledge our desires. 


Pastor and author, John Mark Comer, summarized this dilemma when he said:


“the things about ourselves that we refuse to acknowledge actually have the most power over our lives.” 


Resisting our desires only gives them more power. 


So, how do we radically accept them instead? How do we brace for the feelings of entitlement, disappointment, and frustration that will surely follow? 





Self-Compassion


In her book, “Self-Compassion,” Dr. Kristin Neff explains the importance of “being a good friend to ourselves.” In order to deal with the difficult emotions that come up in the light of our unmet desires, we need to commit to being compassionate towards ourselves. 


Oftentimes, when we begin to admit our true longings to ourselves, we can become disappointed by our inability to do so earlier in our lives. This is when it becomes important to practice Self-Compassion. We have to forgive ourselves for denying our desires. 


Furthermore, “fierce Self-Compassion inspires us to try again.” Turn criticism into curiosity and learn from this struggle. Pinpoint what held you back and make a plan for tackling those obstacles. Remind yourself that your desires are worthy of the embarrassment and difficulty required to try again at them.


Kristin Neff gives us the following challenge:


“see if you can allow gentle self-acceptance to coexist with the active drive for self-improvement.” 



Combating Entitlement 


Perhaps, we may even experience frustration towards ourselves and the things which held us back from honesty. 


Some types of anger are valid. If someone crossed a core boundary in your life or you were unfairly denied basic needs, it may be worthwhile to process your feelings of resentment with a therapist. According to the psychologist, Dr. John Townsend, “angry feelings [can] serve as an early warning system telling us we’re in danger of being injured or controlled.” 


However, some angry feelings can stem from entitlement. When I think of entitlement, the first image that comes to mind is an old man snapping at a waiter or a wealthy woman insisting that she be given a discount she doesn’t actually need. But entitlement can be more subtle than that. 


In her book, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” Amy Morin explains: 

“Believing that you shouldn’t have to work as hard or shouldn’t have to go through the same process as everyone else because you’re the exception to the rule isn’t healthy… A feeling that the world owes you something isn’t always about a sense of superiority. Sometimes it is about a sense of injustice. A person who had a difficult childhood, for example, may max out his credit card as he buys himself all the things he never had as a kid. He may think that the world owes him the opportunity to have nice things, since he missed out a lot as a youngster. This type of entitlement can be just as detrimental as when people think they’re superior” (210). 



When I finally acknowledged my desires, I was met with my own bitterness. I was bitter that people had devalued my dreams when I had shared them. I was bitter towards God for all the circumstances that had made recognizing my desire difficult.


Basically, acknowledging my desire also brought up feelings of entitlement. I felt that I had struggled through so much already. Didn’t I deserve to at least be closer to my dream? 


It’s clear that we need tools for combating entitlement. 


According to Morin, practicing generosity and humility is the cure. She gives the following tips: 


  • Focus on your efforts, not your importance… There is always room to improve. 

  • Accept criticism gracefully.

  • Acknowledge your flaws and weaknesses.

  • Stop and think about how other people feel.

  • Don’t keep score of your good deeds–or the reasons you felt wronged–because you’ll only set yourself up for disappointment.

  • [Remember that life isn’t meant to be fair.]  (pg. 226-227)


Practicing gratitude for what you have and radically accepting your reality can help when feelings of entitlement and bitterness arise.


We don’t have full control over our lives. All we can do is put our best efforts in and hope for the best. 


If you believe in God, you can also trust that He will work everything for good (Rom 8.28). Even the most painful disappointments can be used for good. Those of us who are believers can surrender our need for control to the One who loves us. We can exchange our bitterness for hope that He withholds no good thing from those who love Him (Ps 84.11). We will see His goodness in this life and all of our desires will be satisfied in the next, when we see Him (Ps 116, 1 Jn 3:2). 


Destigmatize Desire 


Bethany Allen, a pastor at Bridgetown Church in Portland Oregon, describes desire as “the currency of the soul and the vehicle for human connection.” She explains that desire is part of our design. It is not something to be denied or worshiped, but an integral part ourselves that deserves acceptance and care.


Desire is an inherent part of being human.


It is something to be embraced and stewarded. Though we can’t fully control our circumstances and often have to deal with disappointment, making peace with our desires is well worth it. 


Learning to accept my desires has brought me alignment and peace. Even though there is no certainty I will get exactly what I want, I am able to embrace this tender part of my heart and validate my dreams for myself. Overall, I feel more aligned and empowered. 


Embracing the desires allowed me to reconnect with my heart, and be more honest in my relationships. 


Exploring the resistance that I had around my dreams has brought so much insight and healing into my life. I hope that it does for you as well!



Sources


MORIN, A. (2019). 13 things mentally strong people don’t do. MANJUL PUBLISHING HOUSE. 


Neff, K. (2013). Self compassion. Hodder & Stoughton. 


Will God really grant the desires of my heart for a spouse? with bethany allen: Episode 220, Hod. YouTube. (2024, February 7). https://youtu.be/mWKxZfbpV2I?si=4We8W9uYEfA_0HxM

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