Updated: Dec 23, 2021
Longing (noun) — a yearning desire, especially for something unattainable or distant.
God is perfect. And yet, He is full of longing. It’s strange to think of longing as something a perfect Being would do. Most of our notions of God’s perfection imply a deep completeness. God is self-sustaining. God needs nothing. God lacks nothing.
And yet He longs.
I’ve been wondering lately what to make of this.
I think God longs because He loves. More specifically, I think He longs because He is love, and it is the nature of love to long for the Beloved.
My clients come to coaching with lots of longings. They desire, and that’s a beautiful thing to me, a necessary and vibrant expression of the human soul. To desire is a signal that your heart is alive, that it wants something. To long for something is to be awake. It’s only when you’ve given up longing that you begin to die.
But it’s also true that longing is painful. It hurts. Sometimes very deeply. Longing reminds us of what’s not here right now, what’s not being satisfied in the deep places of our hearts. It’s the great ache that threatens to consume us.
And because we (in the States, particularly) have been taught to think all pain is a signal that something is wrong, we often believe our longings are bad, or bad for us. So folks come to me as a coach and hold up their longing and they say, “I need a way to get rid of this pain. I either want to fulfill this longing or kill it.”
But what if longing is a part of becoming whole?
What if longing is a part of being in love…I mean, literally, living in love?
When you look at a stunning mountain view, or the ocean at sunset, sometimes the beauty of it all makes you ache inside. Something inside you longs for something “over there” in that beauty. You’ve experienced this, yes?
“We do not want merely to see beauty…we want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” — C.S. Lewis
There’s nothing broken about that. Nothing that needs to be fixed. That sort of longing is beautiful. It makes you beautiful.
In fact, all longing, when it comes from a deep, true place, is like that. It makes you beautiful.
Just ponder that one for a minute: Your longing makes you beautiful.
Don’t hear me wrong. I’m committed to helping people fulfill their longings. Few things in life bring me more joy. But before you judge your longing as false or a waste of time, you might want to consider how the longing itself may be shaping you into something even more amazing and beautiful and full of life than you’ve ever been.
One day the great saint Julian of Norwich was pouring out her heart to God. She was longing. And God met her there and said to her, “I am the ground of thy beseeching.” In modern words, “I am the ground of your longing.”
What if the very instant you begin to pray your true longing, you’ve already come into the heart of God’s presence? What if the very longing you are avoiding is the gateway to God, and to becoming all He ever dreamed you would be?
Yes, I know: Longing makes you vulnerable. If you’ve ever loved anyone, you know this. If you’ve ever loved anyone who didn’t love you back, then you really know it.
But don’t be afraid. You’re in good company.
Because God is love.
And love makes you vulnerable.
Therefore, God is vulnerable.
And He is perfect.
There with you.