Wishes, our deepest desires, our longing for more…
This is what makes us human. It’s what connects us to one another. And it is what connects us to God. It is the longing for eternity. The desire to create something to inspire generations. The desire to fly, to touch the stars…These are wishes that must be pursued, even at the risk of heartbreak, even if they may never come true. Because in pursuing them we find our truest selves and we find God.
Of course, sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t want to do. To sacrifice our desires even. Check out my post on what to do when God asks us to sacrifice.
The very fact that we can wish is proof of God:
With his [the human person’s] openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness…he discerns signs of his spiritual soul…[which] can have its origin only in God. CCC 33
We long for a world without hate, without hunger, without fear. This speaks to our nature as children of God. We weren’t made for a world torn by sin, but for Paradise. Even our smaller wishes reflect this. A desire to become a great chef, a desire to learn to become a performer, a desire to become a mother.
The movie Wish explores the importance of these wishes, reminding us that we should never give them up. And I agree. I consider myself a dreamer. But recently, I’ve been wrestling with something.
And that scares me.
The smart one. The writer. The bird nerd. The capoeirista (martial artist). The Korean learner.
Throughout my life, each of these monikers, born of wishes and desires I was actively pursuing made up the core of my perceived identity. When I was in high school, I fell in love with birds. I had a set of binoculars, I attended a Young Birders Event, I spouted fun facts and I was sure of one thing: one day, I would be a student at Cornell University. In college, I was an ecologist. I was certain that one day I would travel the world from seasonal position to seasonal position.
At each of these moments, I was sure of what my life would be. But my senior year of high school, I had a chance to be a student at Cornell and I turned it down. Post-college, I had the opportunity to take a seasonal position in Hawaii, to travel the world via my career like I’d wanted for the past four years. I turned it down.
My desires had changed.
When I was first offered admission to Cornell, my desire to pursue an economically sound path was stronger than my desire to study at the school with the best lab of Ornithology in the US. When I was offered a position in Hawaii, my desire to stay close to my friends and family outweighed my desire to explore the world.
I suppose the core desire remained the same. Though I didn’t study at Cornell, I did pursue an internship with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. And though I didn’t travel as an ecologist, I did travel as a tourist (read about my experience in a Korean Catholic Confession here). But I’ve found myself really unbalanced by the fact that my goals could change so completely.
If even my own desires and goals–something so personal to me, so removed from circumstance and the world–can change without warning and so completely, what is there to rely on? The movie Wish doesn’t answer this question.
Obviously, the answer is God. But a conceptual answer isn’t always helpful with pragmatics. What does it mean to rely on God? How can he reveal my true identity, the identity of daughter of God that doesn’t change even when my dreams do?
Perhaps as the columnist, I’m expected to provide a satisfying answer to the question I’m posing. But honestly, I’m rather stumped by this one. Pithy answers like “pray constantly” and “read Scripture” are decidedly vague and unhelpful. So, I shall leave this column open-ended. If God affords me some greater wisdom, then I shall return to answer. But perhaps the answer might come from you, the reader.
Feel free to DM me on my instagram @birdloversmusings and send me your thoughts!