As I was praying about my disappointments the other day, I noticed something lingering beneath the surface. I realized that somewhere along the way, I’d come to an agreement of sorts—I need this. Not that I want it, and very much. But that I need it. It’s a very subtle and deadly shift. One that opens the door to despair and a host of other enemies. I was coming to believe that God’s love and God’s life are not enough. Isn’t that what Adam and Eve were seduced into believing—that God was not enough? He had given them so much, but all they could see in their fateful moment of temptation was the one thing they didn’t have. So they reached for it, even if it meant turning from God.
What was so compelling that Adam and Eve could turn from the living God to reach for the one missing thing? I think I am beginning to understand the answer to that question for myself. We start out longing for something, and the more we come to believe this is what we have to have to be happy, the more we obsess about it. The prize just out of reach swells far beyond its actual meaning. It begins to take on mythic proportions. We’re certain life will come together once we achieve it. We think, If only I was married. If only we had children. If only I was rich. If only I had ______ (fill in the blank). Everything else in our lives pales in comparison. Even God. We are falling to believe we need whatever is just beyond our reach, and when we fall to this, we are miserable.
I am not minimizing the sorrow of our disappointments. The ache is real. What I am saying is that the ache swells beyond its nature, dominates the landscape of our psyche when we shift from How I long for this to I need this. The only thing we truly need is God and the life he gives us.