“More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” Jer. 17:9
Rarely does our heart knows exactly what it truly desires at first pass. It often takes several iterations before it arrives at what it had been seeking all along. Perhaps the exasperating search never stops, and the heart is masochistically content with constantly longing. The path of our heart is indeed meandering. According to Ignatian spirituality, our deepest desires are a pathway to hearing God’s voice in our lives. But what we sincerely believe to be our deepest desires at one point can seemingly be flipped later on after more life experience and reflection. How are we to navigate the shifting currents of our heart?
When I graduated college and left the safe confines of parental support and my sole responsibility being my studies, I struggled with finding my niche in the world. I eventually found solace in my hobbies. Playing music gave me the greatest joy and up to that point the most ecstatic moments. Similarly, I felt so much freedom during early morning runs around the lake training for races. My hobbies in a sense offered me glimpses of the divine. However, it soon became inadequate, and my heart yearned for more. I began reading about and exploring religious life and found a deep attraction for a life of contemplation and total self-giving to God in a cloistered monastery. Over a period of several years of visiting various monasteries around the country and being under spiritual direction, I settled on one and took a year off to live as a monk. I believed I had found what my heart had yearned for all these years. There were glorious moments during that year, but even then I felt unsettled. I was confused and prayed earnestly for God to instill into me that initial desire that brought me there. When I had discerned that a religious life was not my calling, it became clear to me that what I sought was a family built around a faith community.
Never would I have been able to predict my spiritual journey, nor do I completely understand it with all of its twists and turns even today. However looking back, a common theme emerges in each major life decision…answering the question, “How do I love and allow myself to be loved?” It IS our heart’s deepest desire. How we search for it and where we find it is the fascinating, mysterious, often winding, sometimes bumpy, and beautiful if we open our eyes to see the journey God invites us to walk.
Lord, you know me. You understand my thoughts from afar. I praise you because I am wonderfully made. See that I follow not the wrong path and lead me in the path of life eternal. --Ps. 139
Reflected by Michael Jamnongjit