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The Journey of DESIRE Journal & GuidebookAn Expedition to Discover the Deepest Longings of Your Heart
By JOHN ELDREDGE Craig McConnell
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 John Eldredge with Craig McConnell
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMile One OUR HEART'S DEEPEST SECRET
It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them. -George Eliot
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for. -U2
Counsel for the Journey
As you set out on the first leg of your journey, it might be good to remember what it was like to begin the first day of exercise, or a new job, or the next grade level at school in the fall. It felt a little awkward at first, didn't it? It took time to find your stride. This journal will probably feel the same way. Remember-our desires often seem a secret that may surface at times and then hide again in the deeper places of our heart. Recalling these defining desires cannot be rushed, or for that matter, orchestrated. It takes time, reflection, and allowing your heart to be moved as you sort through things.
In this chapter, what you're after is to awaken the deep desires of your heart and begin to put some words to it all. That's about it. The exercises are designed to arouse your desires, bring them up from the places we all tend to bury them, and help you articulate them.
There is a classic song by the band U2 called "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," which presents the yearning of our hearts through simple though passionate lyrics and soaring choruses. (How much of the music you love presents this theme of desire for something not yet embraced?) I (John-I'll be writing this first chapter) love the live version, complete with gospel choir, off the Rattle and Hum CD. Listen to this as loud as you can and see if your heart goes in the same direction as mine: Lord, I do, I really do desire more. More of Life. More of you.
Once upon a time there lived a sea lion who had lost the sea.
He lived in a country known as the barren lands. High on a plateau, far from any coast, it was a place so dry and dusty that it could only be called a desert. A kind of coarse grass grew in patches here and there, and a few trees were scattered across the horizon. But mostly, it was dust. And sometimes wind, which together make one very thirsty. Of course, it must seem strange to you that such a beautiful creature should wind up in a desert at all. He was, mind you, a sea lion. But things like this do happen.
How the sea lion came to the barren lands, no one could remember. It all seemed so very long ago. So long, in fact, it appeared as though he had always been there. Not that he belonged in such an arid place. How could that be? He was, after all, a sea lion. But as you know, once you have lived so long in a certain spot, no matter how odd, you come to think of it as home.
Take a moment and respond to this opening passage from the story of the sea lion. What thoughts or feelings does it evoke in you? Is there anything about your own life over the years that resonates with the sea lion's plight?
There is a secret set within each of our hearts. It often goes unnoticed, we rarely can put words to it, and yet it guides us throughout the days of our lives. This secret remains hidden for the most part in our deepest selves. It is simply the desire for life as it was meant to be ... It is elusive, to be sure. It seems to come and go at will ... And though it seems to taunt us, and may at times cause us great pain, we know when it returns that it is priceless. For if we could recover this desire, unearth it from beneath all other distractions, and embrace it as our deepest treasure, we would discover the secret of our existence. (pp. 1-2)
Your existence has a deep meaning. Yet for most of us, it remains hidden, shrouded, buried beneath all the other pressures and demands and busyness of life. But it doesn't go away. Your life has a secret, something written deep in your heart. Have you ever stopped to wonder, What is the point of my life? Who am I, really? Why am I even here-why did God create me? How would you respond to those questions now? What is the secret of your life?
Several years ago I(John) would have answered, "All I know is, there's got to be more. I don't know what it is yet, but I know that the life I'm living can't be the fulfillment of my destiny." More recently, though, I think I could say some things that are deeply true about the secret of my life. I know I'm here to set hearts free. A William Wilberforce to free the hearts of men and women. (God spoke that to me through a book several years ago). I know I'm meant to write and speak about the heart and lead a fellowship. I know I need wilderness, that my heart is wild and free. I know the life I've chosen, the friends I have, the way my family lives is deeply true-truer than it's ever been. I'm living in a MUCH larger story. And I'm deeply grateful that I'm able to say that because there were many, many years of just feeling ... lost.
Isn't there a life you have been searching for all your days? You may not always be aware of your search, and there are times when you seem to have abandoned looking altogether. But again and again it returns to us, this yearning that cries out for the life we prize ... You see, even while we are doing other things, "getting on with life," we still have an eye out for the life we secretly want. When someone seems to have gotten it together we wonder, How did he do it? Maybe if we read the same book, spent time with him, went to his church, things would come together for us as well. You see, we can never entirely give up our quest. (pp. 1, 11)
If your life could be better this next year, what would it look like? What would change?
Is there anything about someone else's life that really looks good to you right now?
Whispers of Joy
The clue as to who we really are and why we are here comes to us through our heart's desire. But it comes in surprising ways, and so often goes unnoticed, or misunderstood. Once in a while life comes together for us in a way that feels so good and right and what we've been waiting for. These are the moments in our lives that we wish could go on forever. They aren't necessarily the "Kodak moments," weddings and births and great achievements. More often than not they come in subtler, unexpected ways, as if to sneak up on us.
Think of times in your life that made you wish for all the world that you had the power to make time stand still. Are they not moments of love, moments of joy? Simple moments of rest and quiet when all seems to be well. Something in your heart says, Finally-it has come. This is what I was made for! (pp. 2-3)
Unearthing our desire isn't a quick and easy thing. So start with just a good moment from the last few weeks-something that may seem rather simple, but it made you glad. What happened? Why was it a good moment?
OK, we're getting warmed up. Now think of another good moment from the past year. What happened? Why was it a good moment?
Now pick one of the best moments from the past few years. Write about it, as I wrote about the evening my family shared in the Tetons. (In fact, it might help to reread that passage from pages 3-4 before you write your own account.) Who was there with you? What were your surroundings? Why was it such a good moment? If you have a photo from that time, it might help to look at it as you write.
Tracks of a Fellow Traveler
One of my best moments came at the end of a wonderful day. My family and a group of our friends had all gone camping together for a week. The last day was spent at a high mountain lake; canoeing, swimming, playing, hiking, a beautiful warm day ... At dusk, sun-tired and happy, we decided to eat at the barbecue offered at the lodge. Easy and good food! There was a musician playing at the barbecue-quite good, singing and playing country songs on his guitar. My golden moment came about halfway through the meal, when we were all seated at three tables clustered together and we had wooed the musician over to us. Someone requested James Taylor's "Carolina," and he sang it well. We all knew the chorus and joined in singing, our voices blending as our lives had blended over the past week and months. Even the children sang. And I had such a feeling of togetherness, of belonging, of a shared past and a shared future ... hope, beauty, adventure, harmony ... lovely. (Stasi)
As the old Scottish poet George MacDonald knew so well, something is calling to us in moments like these.
Yet hints come to me from the realm unknown; Airs drift across the twilight border land, Odored with life; ... whispers to my heart are blown That fill me with a joy I cannot speak, Yea, from whose shadow words drop faint and weak. (Diary of an Old Soul) (p. 4)
What was calling to you through your memory that you just wrote about? For me and for Stasi, it was a sense of intimacy and belonging, of beauty and adventure that made our hearts say, This is how I was meant to live. What was it for you?
Now think about other "hints" that come to you. What are the movies and music, the people, events, and places that have really stirred your heart over the past few years? Just name them here.
Lord, there are so many. Where to begin? Wilderness-deep, rugged, forbidding wilderness. Kissing Stasi. The desert in Moab. Rachmaninoff's Adagio from Symphony no 2. Windy nights at Ute Park. Last night's dinner with Lynn. The last fifteen minutes of Braveheart. The sound track that goes with it. Wow ... this could go on for a long time. Christmas Eve. Horses. Ranches. Western art. The last day at Lost Valley. The photo on my bookcase of Brent and me. Gladiator. The Last of the Mohicans. Snowshoeing up by the Tyndall glacier. I'd better stop and let you write.
Echoes from the past
Sometimes these moments go unrecognized as they unfold, but their secret comes to us years later in our longing to relive them. Aren't there times in your life that, if you could, you would love to return to? I grew up in Los Angeles but spent my boyhood summers in Oregon where both my mother's and my father's parents lived. There was a beauty and innocence and excitement to those days. Woods to explore, rivers to fish, grandparents to fuss over me. My parents were young and in love, and the days were full of adventures I did not have to create or pay for, but only live in and enjoy. Rafting and swimming in the Rogue River. Playing in the park. Huckleberry pie at Becky's along the road to Crater Lake. We all have places in our pasts when life, if only for a moment, seemed to be coming together in the way we knew in our hearts it was always meant to be. (p. 5)
Is there a time and place in your life that you would love to return to? When was it-and why would you love to relive it again, if only for a day? (It might be good to look through some old photo albums and remember some of the "firsts" of your life.)
People tend to handle the past in one of two extremes. Either they try to push it all away, "put it behind them" and never speak of it again, or they might yearn and feel nostalgic and talk as though life will never be that good again. Which do you tend toward? Why?
Much of my life has been good ... and much of it has also been painful. I see now that I'm one of those people who just want to get past it all. I actually looked forward to growing up, growing older, so I could put the past behind me. I rarely look at old photo albums, rarely think about the past. I've never organized a family reunion. I'm hardly ever nostalgic. I focus on the future, whats ahead. I think I'm beginning to better understand why. Thinking about the past rouses longing and hope and pain that I'd just rather not deal with ... that is, until I realize "I want my whole heart back!"
Shouts of Lament
Now for the more difficult side of desire. It's hard for most of us to talk about our losses. But the secret of our hearts is also coming to us even in our greatest losses. So again, let's start with something simpler and more current-a bad day you've had recently (and given the way life tends to go in a fallen world, I think it's safe to ask about recently). What happened? Why was it a bad day? And what were you tempted to conclude about life in that moment?
What has been one of the biggest hassles of the last few years? What would have brought you relief?
Now, this is going to be harder, but hang in there with me. What has been one of your greatest losses or disappointments? Whom or what did you lose, and what did the thing you lost mean to you?
Is there anyone or anything that you wish could be restored to you?
Simone Weil was right; there are only two things that pierce the human heart: beauty and affliction. Moments we wish would last forever and moments we wish had never begun. What are we to make of these messengers? How are we to interpret what they are saying? (p. 8)
What have you done with the way your life has unfolded? I mean, how have you made sense of it all? Put those two events together, the joys and the losses you just wrote about. What does your heart do with it all?
I hunker down, that's what I do. I want the joy, for sure. But I fear the hurt and heartache I know is coming. So I think what I do is sort of hunker down, and try to grab at little pleasures as I can while guarding against major disappointments. I feel like a turtle, ready to pull my head into my shell at any moment.
The Same Old Thing
Something awful has happened; something terrible. Something worse, even, than the fall of man. For in that greatest of all tragedies, we merely lost Paradise-and with it, everything that made life worth living. What has happened since is unthinkable: we've gotten used to it. We're broken in to the idea that this is just the way things are. The people who walk in great darkness have adjusted their eyes. Regardless of our religious or philosophical beliefs, most of us live as though this life is pretty much the way things are supposed to be. (p. 9)
You may not be aware how used to it you've really gotten. That's a symptom of learning to live with life in a fallen world. We simply, slowly adjust. But consider it this way: Do you have big dreams for yourself? Name five. And if you don't have big dreams for yourself, what might that say about how you "hunker down"?
Think with me for a moment. How has life turned out differently from the way you thought it would? If you are single, did you want to be? If you are married, is this the marriage you hoped for? Do you long to have children, or in having them, are you delighted with the course they've chosen for their lives? Your friendships-are they as rich and deep and lasting as you want? When the holidays roll around, do you look forward with eager anticipation to the time you'll spend with the people in your life? And afterward, as you pack away the decorations and clean up the mess, did the reality match your expectations?
How about your work, your place in the world-do you go to bed each night with a deep sense of having made a lasting contribution? Do you enjoy ongoing recognition for your unique successes? Are you even working in a field that fits you? Are you working at all? (p. 10)
Excerpted from The Journey of DESIRE Journal & Guidebook by JOHN ELDREDGE Craig McConnell Copyright © 2007 by John Eldredge with Craig McConnell. Excerpted by permission.
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