Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Time for Yearning

I meant to write a follow-up to my last post on church and belonging to one, and talk about how I said some things in a way that were probably not the best way to put them. But tonight, I can't write that post, because my heart is yearning.
Tonight, as I drove home from the church building I know every inch of, my heart wanted only to drive, to wander, to go. Every car I passed seemed to be in slow motion, although my foot pressed lighter than usual on the gas pedal. My soul searched for quiet, but hindered its search by clattering around inside of my head. Sometimes, I think I just need to leave. Immediately. So far, there's always been enough reason in me to dissuade me from disappearing (I'm pretty practical...I know that I don't have enough money, or that the vehicle I'm driving will break down before I get somewhere I don't know where I am, or that I'll just feel guilty for leaving). Still, the idea of leaving my life behind is so utterly appealing sometimes.
I have a lot of problems, and on nights like these I start to realize that I will always have a myriad of problems. The idea of always being stuck with problems begins to weigh on me, and the idea of leaving them all behind starts to seem so appealing. Right. As if, by simply driving into the black night until I run out of gas or wakefulness or will, I will no longer have any problems (I'd probably have more than when I left, frankly). But I'm sure you know partly the feeling I'm writing about, where our heart says to go. I grow so tired of my weaknesses, inconsistencies, and shortcomings that are holding me back from where I'd like to be that I would rather just leave all the familiarity behind and make a new life with new problems. I don't like monotony.
But I never leave. Something always holds me back; perhaps the knowledge that fleeing my problems will never solve them, or the understanding that my family loves me more than anyone I'll find elsewhere ever can, or the knowing that God's plan for my life does not include a hare-brained flight across the country in a family vehicle. Whatever it is that stops me from rolling across the blacktop for uncounted miles, what it cannot stop is the restlessness within, the yearning for what I cannot have right now. I want a lot of things, good things, things that God wants me to want, but I have none of them, and will not for a while, or at least until I pass a few more hard tests (not school). I want to allow myself to fall completely in love with a wonderful woman, and I want to know God in the most complete way possible, I want to DIE, I want to have a job that pays for my needs...I want to grow up. I call the desire for all of the good things I don't have yearning. And, in my mind, yearning is a good kind of want.
There are many kinds of wantings, but yearning is one of the best. There is lusting, or coveting, or wanting, or thirsting, or yearning. And others. Tonight, I yearn. Tonight, I make plans to walk across the country with a dog, or bike a famous highway, or canoe a long and muddy river. Tonight, I dream of things I won't do. And, eventually, I realize, with a deep sigh, that tonight is meant to bring me back to Him, like every other night, or day. My times are in His hand. But, deep within, I still yearn. A yearning does not just disappear. Nor should it. Robert Frost knew some of what I'm fruitlessly describing. Maybe he can help you understand what I mean.

Reluctance-Robert Frost

Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended; 
I have come by the highway home, 
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground, 
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things, 
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?


  1. This is for sure the "real life" part...
    It's a wonderful comfort to remember God made us the way we are with the yearnings we have. He is sufficient.
    I recently got lovely little pocket book of Frost poems. Treasure to be sure!

  2. Wish we had talked tonight, brother. I know these feelings well. btw, I see God working in you and building you; you're already being transformed into a man.

  3. "I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of."
    — Michel de Montaigne

  4. This was/is good *nods*
    A deep part of my heart agrees, because really I'm a home-body.
    This is truth; 'going' will not leave behind the things we want to get away from. Just the things that we have worked hard to build. Like relationships.
    Keep yearning, and know that God wants to give you the desires of your heart.

  5. This post is really encouraging to me Peter. A good full circle of thought, but somehow feels like a different place at the end

  6. I know the feeling well...

  7. You ever drive over a hill at night and see a city full of twinkling lights? Wonder who lit them all, or what they're shining for?....

  8. Who doesn't know this feeling? Everyone at some point wants to leave their problems and past behind. That feeling of just passing the exit and driving to a place where no one knows you where no one will judge you is so tantalizing and irresistible at times! I think those are the moments that define and show us how strong the Lord is making us. Carry on, christian soldier, carry on.