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Wants vs. Yearnings

“We are desire. It is the essence of the human soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it. Not a symphony has been written, a mountain climbed, an injustice fought, or a love sustained apart from desire. Desire fuels our search for the life we prize.” ~ John Eldredge

Wants and yearnings. Do you have them? Do you know the difference between the two? Do you know what you’re feeling when you’re experiencing a want or a yearning? Yearnings are something we experience that is much deeper than a want. Yearnings come from the depths of our soul; they’re our life’s compass or navigation tool. They can include a desire to connect, to be seen, to be heard, to matter, to make a difference, to name just a few. For me, yearnings are feelings that are non-negotiable and can’t be dismissed with a wave of a hand. They’re deep desires that don’t just go away; they will nag at you. You may not feel your yearnings 24/7 but they are relentless and will come up again and again until they are met; at least that’s been my experience.

Wants on the other hand are only on the surface. Wants are those things we tend to do to diminish or put off meeting our yearnings. Wants can show up in our lives as a desire to go shopping, watch TV, play games on our phone, etc. They attempt to numb our desire to meet our yearnings because we may feel fear, anxiety, or lack belief in ourselves when it comes to doing the work to fulfill our yearnings. It may work for a while, but our yearnings will always be just under the surface, poking and prodding us to pay attention to them.

How do you respond when you feel those yearnings? Do you nurture them, or do you numb or ignore them? Sometimes those yearnings are easy to nurture and fulfill, while others may be more difficult. Sometimes those yearnings cause us to face our fear of failure or inadequacy; they are so strong that we can’t help but do the hard work it sometimes takes to meet those yearnings.

Personally, I have a real yearning to be a part of something larger than myself, to connect, to be seen and heard, to make a difference, and to feel like I matter through my writing. However, those yearnings will sometimes get put on hold or shoved aside because of my fears that I may not connect with my readers, or what I write about doesn’t resonate with them, or feeling like what I want to share with my readers doesn’t really matter to them. When these fears come up, I will sometimes self-soothe with soft addictions…I watch Netflix, I eat, I go shopping, I play games on my phone…just about anything just so I don’t have to address my fears and do the one thing that makes me so uncomfortable. I will “self-medicate” in order to avoid feeling those fears and meeting my yearnings. However, when I do this, all it does is put off the inevitable. Before I know it, the desire is so strong, that I have to say to myself, “Screw it, I’m just going to do it! Let whatever comes come.”

If you have yearnings but struggle to meet them, I challenge you to put aside your “soft addictions” and pay attention to those callings of the soul. What can you do to nurture those yearnings you have? If you feel you don’t know enough, continue working on meeting those yearnings while you take classes or read more books. Or maybe you feel the need to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Whatever your yearnings or deepest desires are, get in touch with them; feel them. Get in touch with your soul craving and pursue that yearning. I promise you that pursuing your yearnings will bring you more joy than getting drawn into a time-sucking activity such as going shopping for new shoes or clothes, winning a game on your phone, or getting caught up in another Netflix series. Pursuing your yearnings with passion and purpose will bring you the greatest amount of joy and satisfaction. I guarantee it!

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