Tag Archives: Desires

Protecting Desire in an Age of Gluttony

[These thoughts on living with unfulfilled desire were first published here back on October 20, 2006. Since I am teaching on addictions and the need to protect (no slake nor deny) desire this week, I thought I might resurrect this introduction to a short series on the topic of protecting desire. To read the remaining posts, follow the links at the bottom of the post.]

I have a confession to make: desire, not cotton, is the fabric of my life. I crave foods, comfortable living, excitement, time with my wife without interruptions, sex, prestige, freedom from illicit temptations (or is it freedom to indulge without penalty?), free time, obedient children, and employment that doesn’t seem like work. Satisfaction is the name of my game. And with 4 decades of experience in achieving at least partial satisfaction, I still find it ever elusive, never lasting more than a moment in time. Even when I get what I want, it’s never enough. Continue reading


Filed under addiction, Biblical Reflection, Desires

Expectations and the will

We’ve been thinking a bit about expectations this week. Now, when our expectations fail to be met, we have a couple of less than optimal options;

1. Slide toward despair and anger. A passive response to not getting what we hoped for.

2. Find new ways to get what we expect or want (and, if necessary, justify our actions in case others think we are selfish).

On this second point, my pastor preached last Sunday on Judges 18 (The tribe of Dan looking for a reason to take a land not offered them by God). He listed several ways (tongue in cheek) we can become good syncretists (having the appearance of Christianity but operating on unbiblical principles). They are worth repeating as we may find that we actively seek to justify willful behavior so that we get what we want. I don’t have his list in front of me so I’m going on memory here:

1. Start going after what you want but then on the way ask God if he’s going to bless what you are doing

2. When you get an answer, be sure to read any ambiguity as supporting your own interests. Don’t consider that the person telling you that God is favoring you might be off his rocker (the priest was not following the Law because he was allowing Micah to have idols as well).

3. When you see that you can be successful at grabbing something not yours, assume that success means that God is in it. Assume might makes right.

4. If a better deal comes along (the priest or seeming success of Micah and his idols), assume the better deal is a good idea and grab all you can.

My pastor did a better job with these and I’m not doing justice here to his creativity but I do find that it is so easy for me to justify my expectations, find ways to fulfill them–even if I know God is not in it. Some examples I see from others:

1. Justifying rage towards children because they are rebellious

2. Justifying sexual sin because God wants me to be happy

3. Justifying overeating/undereating because celebration is good/too many people overindulge

4. Justifying withholding love because others aren’t doing their fair share

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Filed under Biblical Reflection, Cognitive biases, conflicts, deception, Desires, Psychology, self-deception, Uncategorized

Frustrated goals? Here is one solution…

Let’s admit to ourselves that we carry a large number of goals for other people. We wish and desire for them to change their ways. Life would be so much easier if my son…my wife…my boss…my pastor would only… 

This is especially true in the counseling office. People come to counseling to find a way to fix a problem (person) in their life. They may well recognize their own need for change but commonly find their attention turning to the one person causing them great relational pain. Counselors are no less capable of being frustrated as well. We have goals for our clients–ways we want them to act. When they do not accept our goals or are not able to fulfill them to our egocentric demands, we too can be frustrated.

Here is one solution that may provide you with less frustration:

Make your goals things that you can meet on your own.Okay, maybe this sounds a little crazy, but hear me out. Let’s say your spouse frequently responds to your questions with irritable defensiveness. You know you are nothing but sweetness and light to him/her and that the problem lies solely with your spouse. You are frustrated that they do not get that they need to change. You’ve brought up nicely and you’ve brought it up repeatedly–even seeking help from a counselor. But to no avail.

Consider, then, a goal change. Goal: I want my response to my spouse to be filled with love, truth, and an invitation to warmly try again, even if they do not accept my invitation. You have the power, with God’s help, to meet this goal. You can use this to evaluate how well you are doing?

Does such a goal change make your suffering from your spouse’s crankiness any less? No. But when (a) you accept that you have NO power to make someone else change and (b) accept that you do have power in how you will respond to such things, you receive two benefits

  • You stop distressing over how to fix another person
  • You use different criteria to evaluate yourself and your life (and thus may find that your own irritation is adding to the vicious cycle and your negative evaluations of your life)

Now, I am not saying that if you are suffering at the hands of your spouse or child or boss that you should just smile and take it. It is okay to speak the truth to sin. Maltreatment does do damage and working to stop it is a good thing (if necessary, by removing oneself from the situation). But even then, you can offer an invitation to a new way of relating should the person be open to hearing you.

So, if you are frustrated with others not helping you meet your goals, consider whether or not you can rewrite your goals to be something within your power to do. Warning: it can be a challenge to give up a goal for another. It feels like giving up a dream. It will be easier to give up said goal for other if you recognize that there are a host of goals available for you right at your fingertips.


Filed under christian psychology, Christianity, conflicts, Psychology, Relationships