Design of Desire: The Struggle with Desire

This week on The Allender Center Podcast, Dan launches a new series, Design of Desire, all about the desire rooted deep in our humanity—where it comes from, how it manifests in our lives, and the war that is constantly waged against it.

“There is so much trauma with regard to the issue of desire.”

The inspiration for this series came after Dan returned home from a fly-fishing trip in the backcountry of Montana with his friend and colleague Steve Call. With his wife Becky out of town, Dan came home to an empty house with no power during a windy, rainy Seattle storm, and he settled in to read a book, Poetry as Survival, recommended by Sue Cunningham, who was a recent guest on the podcast. Early in the book, Gregory Orr writes about hearing a religious platitude about the inscrutability of God’s plan in the face of devastating trauma.

“Life can be on a trajectory that seems good, and in one second life is shattered and changed. […] It’s foul to think that that is a core message: that somehow we should bear comfort because it’s all part of God’s plan.”

As he begins guiding us through this topic, Dan points to Proverbs 13:12 as a reference—“A desire fulfilled is the very tree of life. Desires that go unmet make the heart sick.”

“When we address the issue of desire, we are in the depths of the core war of the human heart […] the reality of our own heart’s awareness that our beloved is not yet home.”

This is terrain that is brimming with heartache, grief, and loss, but also great joy and expectancy. And at its core, says Dan, desire is a battlefield and is most profoundly opposed by envy—the desire to rob desire.

“We live in a world that is at war with desire. We don’t know what to do with our own, we don’t know what to do with the desire of those we are in relationship with. Often we don’t even want to admit that there are those who oppose our desire, and probably even darker, we don’t want to name the reality of envy—that desire against desire that works to thwart the very heart of humanity in us.”

This is a huge topic, one that gets to the heart of what it means to confront trauma, to engage our stories, and to step more fully into our God-formed identities. Next week, Dan will look at the original intention of the desire that is rooted in our humanity, and how it came to be turned upside down.