Discontentment shakes my shoulder at night. Wake up, it whispers. Think about how you wish were. Focus on your unrealized dreams, your too tight jeans, what you miss, what you hunger for…
Most nights I wrestle loose from these thoughts by focusing on things I’m grateful for; the snoring man beside me, loyal and true, my children who love God and others and, so far, seem unscathed by the craziness of their mother. My comfy bed and the cold side of the pillow, the click-whirr-hum of the heater, the knowledge that coffee is comin’ soon, and PTL, stretchy pants.
I have a great life. Yet I find myself longing – yearning for what could be, what might have been, who I wish I was. I’m unsatisfied with the current state of affairs, ashamed to admit it, and clueless as to what to do about it.
The Germans have a word for what I’m feeling: sehnsucht (pronounced zane-zookt). Not easily translated into English, it means a pining, a craving, or an intense missing. Author and philosopher C.S. Lewis described it as an “inconsolable longing in the heart for we know not what.”
I hate lack. I have a compulsion to satisfy any and all longings. I fill the hole in my soul with distractions and food and wine and whine. I satiate myself into stretchy pants. But if Lewis is right, and I think he is, that our longings are inconsolable, then perhaps I should learn to embrace them. Let longing be my teacher. Stop making lists and plans and trying to fill the hole and let Jesus fill me with his Spirit.
This is hard y’all, resisting the urge to fix and fill. It’s counterintuitive to me and counter-cultural for us, is it not? How do we truly let Jesus fix it? I’m not sure. I think it starts with belief. We’ve got to believe Jesus is real, and present, and all about our good, which does not mean he is going to give us what we want, but he will give us what we need. For today. Manna. Stretchy pants.
Will our longings be consoled in the here and now? I think not. But if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will one day be saved from our inconsolable longings and filled with unimaginable glory. Maranatha.