As a fundamentalist Christian, I learned quite early to fear my desires. They most certainly would lead to activity that God did not desire for me. We tended to interpret "desire" as anything having to do with sensuality, such as sex. Rarely did desire get linked--in sermons or in conversations--to unhealthy appetites for power or control, certainly not to any forms of corporate evil or injustice. Desire was personal and perilous.
I'm about two decades out of fundamentalism, and I have enjoyed freedom of the senses, sexual or otherwise, for many years. But in truth, I still fear my desires. I fear to know what I really need out of life. I fear to acknowledge what I long for. And although you would think that as we grow older we would get better at contentment, it seems that longing deepens and that the soul's interior cries grow more insistent.
Perhaps it becomes more difficult to admit unhappiness as we grow older and become more established in some aspects. We're engaged in long-term commitments; we're partnered up, and we've given years to a career. If we are indeed unhappy, what can we un-do without destroying a life we have built? Chances are, the unhappiness does not issue from some fleeting, insubstantial thing--out of sheer practice we have learned to tolerate inconvenience, pain, and rerouted plans. We've learned not to allow shallow and short-lived circumstances to influence our happiness. The discontent we now experience comes from matters more settled and over-arching. It's easier to avoid thinking about the discontent than it is to approach the magnitude of it.
But I believe that a person's deepest desires merit attention and respect. Usually our true desires mirror Divine desire, and when we neglect them we not only prevent personal healing but also spiritual progress.
This means that 2012 may be a rocky year. I need to understand what my soul needs, what my life wants, what the most honest me dreams of. Not a safe course at all. Not easy, not without its cost.