Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Desires of My Heart

Elizabeth Maddrey

I've been thinking a lot lately about the desires of my heart. From
the time I was fourteen I have had exactly two burning desires: I was
going to teach computer science at the college level, maybe high
school, and after I'd done that for a while, I was going to have
children and be a stay-at-home mom.

I spent four years in the classroom. One year I taught in a Christian
high school, the other three years I taught in a community college. I
tell people that I stopped teaching because we moved, or that I
decided it was time for a little break, but the whole truth is I am
not a good classroom teacher. I am great at planning classes,
delivering lectures, and even getting grades done in a fair and timely
fashion. I have the underpinnings necessary to teach as well as the
desire. But all the desire in the world won't lead to the inherent
understanding of students that a teacher needs. In that department I
find myself sorely lacking. And the desire that was once a burning
flame is now simply a painful echo.

Those same four years entailed working toward the fulfillment of my
other desire – to have children. Now, looking back and taking stock of
everything, I have come to the realization that it probably will not
happen. Certainly there are other options like adoption that we have
not yet seriously considered, and so people wonder why I say that I
will never have children. The answer is simple. Faced with the
decision to either continue to want and be hurt by every failure or to
let go of the desire, I have realized that I need to let go.

For the past four years I have claimed the promise of Psalm 37:4,
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your
heart." (NIV) I acted with the knowledge that if I dedicated my
efforts to Him, and asked for His will, He would bless my efforts and
grant those desires. But that isn't what the scripture says. I was not
delighting myself in the Lord, I was telling the Lord to delight in my
efforts. The difference is humbling. As I have cried, struggled, and
screamed for God to grant me the desires of my heart, I have set
myself up to fail. Verses five through seven explain His promise.
"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He
will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your
cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait
patiently for Him." I have been waiting since I was fourteen years old
for God to grant the desires of my heart, and all those years I should
have been asking for God to make the desires of His heart my own.

It's a difficult realization for me, and I struggle with it almost
daily, but I am slowly changing my heart's desires. I have put away
the specific list I used to present daily to God and instead ask only
that He will help me to desire Him above all else. It's difficult, but
I can slowly see the changes and the joy this is bringing to my life.
When my friend called to tell me she is pregnant with her third
"oops", I was able to be happy for her without the slimy fingers of
jealousy and pain intruding on that joy. I will delight myself in Him
and He will give Himself to me. And in doing this, He will give me the
desire of my heart.

Elizabeth Maddrey is a digital products analyst at META Group in
Virginia. She met her husband, Tim, while they were both completing
computer science degrees at Wheaton College in Illinois. After
graduation, they had many interesting experiences while Tim served
four years in the Army. Their family, at this point, consists of two
spastic Shetland sheepdogs.

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