When I was a kid, I really, really loved basketball. I wanted to be good. I would pretend to be the Missouri Tigers in the driveway. You know the drill – down two with time running out, you shoot, and. . . if you missed – well you were fouled. Haha.
In high school I wanted to win, and I wanted to be the star. Now the truth is I was good but not a star, but that didn’t keep me from working at it. I would practice a lot. I bought the “strength shoes” to improve my vertical. I did endless drills.
I had a good not great career. But I loved the whole thing. But what drove me was the chance to win. I had a desire to win. It wasn’t always met – but it drove me to be better.
We have a huge problem in our culture and it has a crazy impact on us as singles. We think that unmet desire is always bad. If I have a desire, then it should be met – right now! This is America damn it! Meet My Desire!
Desire is good. In fact in Psalm 37:4 God promises to give us desires (not give us what we want, but give us what to want). Desire drives us to do incredible things. Desire makes us want to grow, to change, to become better. Without desire we would be dead.
Desire drives us to act. Always. The question becomes where do we let us drive us.
We all have a desire for love. Now obviously we need to take our desire for love to Jesus first. This is critical for everything else in life. The best part is that God will meet us and He does love us. In fact he is the only person who can meet that desire.
But what about other desires. Can God meet our desire for sex? Can God be our spouse? Can God physically hold our hand or give us physical intimacy? No. And yet God created sex. He created us with the desire for physical and emotional intimacy and partnership with another person. That’s awesome . . . and frustrating!
So what do we do with unmet sexual/intimacy desire?
We can go out and meet that base desire by having sex with someone. I mean we have needs and they need to be met. A lot of us don’t want the work involved with that sin though so we settle for what I call “Lazy Immorality”. By this I mean, porn, masturbation, romance novels, whatever. (I’ll define this more soon).
We can also just try to kill the desire so we don’t have to feel it. Just focus on work, or school, or a hobby. The more extreme the better. Whatever works. Ministry works well here. Just focus on other stuff. Shove that desire down deep.
We can get religious. Just be content where you are. We can drop in some misused Pauline quotes. The favorite is in Philippians 4 where Paul says, “I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation.” So just don’t want. “Just Be” is how we take that. But that isn’t really what Paul is getting at. The “secret” isn’t to kill desire. It’s not to be ok with whatever. Paul gives us the secret in the next verse – through Jesus “who gives me strength”.
Paul had learned that regardless of what he felt, Jesus would meet him and sustain it. His identity, joy, or overall life was not wrapped up in unmet desire or circumstance. That is the contentment Paul was talking about. He wasn’t saying, “Don’t feel. Don’t try to make things different. Stay as you are it’s fine.” No Paul was saying Jesus was bigger than all of that. He is saying let whatever your situation is let it drive you to Jesus. I don’t need to kill my desire or have it met the wrong way. I need to walk straight into unmet desire – with Jesus.
We can’t just tell people to not worry about it. We don’t do this in other areas. The church doesn’t say to the poor – just stay poor and be content. It doesn’t say to the sick, just stay sick and be content. No, we step up and step in. We act. (Or at least we are supposed to). All the while pointing out that no matter what the circumstances Jesus has to be desired first.
The truth is that these desires we have are natural and good, and from God. We need to engage Him and we need to move forward. It’s hard. Unmet desire is a part of life to the full. We need to feel the tension. It drives us to the things that God has for us – if we let it.
What do you do with your unmet desire?
Thanks for this post. This is honestly the most challenging frustration for me since getting saved about 1 1/2 years ago and being single. I commend you for writing about this topic, but I’m going to ask you to be a bit more specific and practical…
You wrote: ” I need to walk straight into unmet desire – with Jesus.”
What does that actually look like? Does that mean to pray about it? Or is there something more we can actually do when we’re feeling the strong need to meet that unmet desire? I feel like the answer I always get to this question is to just “pray on it,” but honestly that doesn’t always feel like it works when the temptation is so strong…
I believe he may mean:
to remain in peace as you acknowledge and confess to Jesus your struggle with your god-given desires, and that while you honor, praise, and thank God because he is good and those desires he gave you are good, you cast your cares and submit/surrender those desires to God, knowing that while those desires aren’t being met, you realize and are thankful that he cares for you.
Justin, please correct me if I’m wrong.
Great question Angela. I basically dropped my own spiritual platitude which I’m always railing against – see how easy it is to do that – Ha!
Tom I do mean that but maybe even more. First I need to actually face my hurt and unmet desire. That is what I mean by walk straight into it (instead of handling it one of the above mentioned ways). So instead of running from it, facing it.
But the key to that is doing it with Jesus. I think that means a lot of different things depending on our story but it includes some things for sure. It does include prayer but not just in the way we always think about it. Not just survival prayer but maybe more actual conversation with God. Asking Him what He can show you in the situation and asking Him to remind you of how He views you.
I think it can include self examination with God and community. Sometimes I need to get out of my own way. Not always – but sometimes. Asking God to show me what is going on is good.
The biggest (and hardest to live out) piece is fighting to have our identity in Jesus regardless of context. This includes what Tom says above. Mainly though for me the more I can focus in on who I am in Christ and who I’m becoming the less the circumstance matters. Again that’s not to kill the desire – but it keeps the desire from running me.
In my case I’ve always had a desire for a spouse. But it used to dominate me. As I kind of faced that desire I began to get rid of a lot of the secondary reasons. For example wanting a spouse to fit in, to gain acceptance, to feel loved, to “arrive” at adulthood etc. The more I leaned into Jesus the more He kind of took those parts away. I still wanted to be married – and I kept working at it – but it dominated me less because my identity wasn’t linked to it anymore.
Does that help? Sorry for the long response – but that’s what I get for dropping one liners without explaining it. 🙂
Thanks for pointing it out.
Pingback: Contentment – What does that even mean? | pursuingHISwill
The horrific comments here really illustrate how messed up Christianity truly is. Single people should never be subjected to this kind of staggering cruelty, especially in the name of an allegedly living God
Pingback: From Hard To Holy | More Than Don't Have Sex
Pingback: Lies Single Christians Believe | More Than Don't Have Sex