So, we’re one week into the new year. If you do any type of writing, you’re kind of locked in to having to write something about the new year before you’re allowed to write about anything else. Consider it an unwritten rule. It’s kind of like the whole concept of placing money under the free parking space in Monopoly. Somewhere along the line, someone came up with that rule, and it gained wide acceptance. But look in the actual rule book—it’s nowhere to be found. Although I usually don’t abide by unwritten rules, I found a good reason to position my colorful dollars under the board in hopes of giving you a new perspective on resolutions.
Everyone (almost everyone anyway) has a new set of resolutions. This newfound resolve stems from a desire for something different. People, for these first few short weeks, are keenly aware of the destructive nature of their eating habits, relational tendencies, lack of discipline, etc. and they desperately want to change those things. People just want to get rid of bad habits, and we believe the way to do that is to rid ourselves of bad desires.
Here’s the thing about desires though: desires are never discarded. Rather, they are always displaced. It’s impossible to empty out your heart of desire. No one at any point in time is void of desire. To do so would be impossible. Our hearts were made for desire. They are always longing for something, always reaching, always wanting. If we realize this truth, it completely changes the way that we deal with wrong desires.
If you’re anything like me, when you realize that you’ve been desiring something that you shouldn’t, the first response is to tell yourself, “I shouldn’t desire that.” I don’t need that cake, I don’t need to look at that, I don’t need to be with this person, and the list goes on and on. Identifying bad desires is the easy part; ridding ourselves of those bad desires is what’s hard.
For most of us, we think the the solution is just forcing ourselves to discard the desires. We believe that if we can just get rid of those feelings, those lusts, those inclinations, then all will be well. Again, if you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced very little success in actually putting away (or discarding desires). It’s because desires can never be discarded; they have to be displaced. You can’t just get rid of desires; you have to replace them.
Our desires are never just thrown away; they are always traded for what we feel like is something better. Our hearts are always full to the brim with a longing for something. The only way to be successful in changing our desires is to exchange our desires. The only way to really deal with lust is to be so desirous of something else that the previous desire is crowded out in favor of a newer, better desire.
Stop trying to deal with bad habits by trying to rid yourself of them. Deal with bad habits by replacing the older desire with a new one. This year, rather than spending your time trying to muster up the willpower to STOP, focus your energy on STARTING.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalms 34:8
I’ve made one commitment this year and that is that I want to be so consumed with Jesus that he displaces my desire for evil. This is what trying looks like. Trying isn’t mustering up the correct amount of willpower at the moment that I’m tempted to want what’s bad for me. I’ve tried that, and I’ve failed every time. What trying looks like is waking up each morning with a renewed sense of desperation to be satisfied by what I find in Jesus. The more that I read and meditate on what he says, the more I find myself in awe of how the things that once gripped my heart pale in comparison to what I now see.
Desires are meant to be displaced, not just discarded.