Our society has bought into the philosophy that there is (or ought to be) a remedy (preferably quick and easy) for every unfulfilled longing.
We are encouraged to identify our longings and do whatever is necessary to get those “needs” met. So . . . if you want something you can’t afford, charge it. If you crave romance, dress or act in a way that will get men to notice you. If you’re lonely or bored in your marriage, reach out to that old boyfriend on Facebook.
The next time you’re in the grocery store, take a quick look at the women’s magazines at the checkout counter. Or just pause to see what you're scrolling through on social media. No matter where you look, you're confronted with offers that promise to satisfy every imaginable longing:
- "24 Signs You've Found Your Soul Mate"
- "3-Day Detox Program for clean energy, weight loss, and bright skin"
- "25 Secrets to Looking Young"
- "Indulge Yourself: Instant Long Hair; Goof-proof Self-tanning"
- "The Little Health Habit That Keeps You Thin, Improves Your Skin, and Ups Your Energy"
- "How to Invest in Yourself"
- "The Easy Life: Fun Jobs, Cool Dresses, Wild Fantasies, and Smart Solutions"
Somehow, somewhere, there's a way to fulfill your longings—it may be:
- a how-to book
- a romance novel
- a cruise
- a new romantic relationship
- a new hairstyle, wardrobe, house, or job
- a deep-dish pizza dripping with melted cheese
- a picture-perfect home
At best, this way of thinking has left many women still unfulfilled, still grasping, still searching for something to fill the inner emptiness. At its worst, it causes deep heartache.
This lie fuels anxiety, resentment, and depression. It causes women to trade in their virginity for a warm body and the promise of companionship. It can lead a married woman to seek fulfillment in the arms of a man at work who claims to care about her feelings. It can lead a young woman down the aisle of a church to exchange wedding vows for all the wrong reasons. And one day it may lead that same woman down the aisle of a divorce court—all in an effort to satisfy their deep, unfulfilled inner longings.
“Carmen” shares where this lie led her:
Believing that I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings, I got what I wanted when I wanted it. Clothes, trips to Europe, or weekends away—put on credit cards or financed some way, until I had approximately $7,000-$10,000 debt by the time I was twenty-two.
"Eileen's" story also illustrates the depths of emotional and personal destruction that can result from believing this lie:
I was not sexually fulfilled in my marriage, and I believed it was my husband's fault. I blamed him and sought another man to satisfy me sexually. I called it love, knowing it was lust, but believing that my husband owed me sexual fulfillment. It was great for a while, but when it unraveled, the guilt, the shame, and the destruction left a patch of hurt and pain too great and not worth whatever pleasure I may have felt for such a brief moment.
How can the Truth set us free from the chains of this deception?
First, we have to recognize that we will always have unfulfilled longings this side of heaven (Rom. 8:23). In fact, if we could have all our longings fulfilled down here, we would easily be satisfied with the status quo and our hearts would never long for a better place.
It is important to understand that our inner longings are not necessarily sinful in and of themselves. What is wrong is when we make idols out of those things we long for—when we demand that our longings be fulfilled here and now or insist on meeting those longings in illegitimate ways.
God created the sexual drive. Sex is a good gift (Gen. 2:24–25; Prov. 5:18–19; 1 Cor. 7:3–5). It's not wrong to fulfill the desire for sexual intimacy as long as we do it in God's timing and in His way—within a covental marriage between a man and a woman. However, the world tells us that we have the right to fulfill our sexual drive regardless of how, when, where, or with whom.
Food, too, is a good gift (Ps. 145:15; 1 Tim. 4:3–4). It's not wrong to have physical hunger, nor is it wrong to eat. What is wrong is when we stuff ourselves in an effort to satisfy emotional and spiritual longings.
Likewise, it's not wrong to be married or to have children, but it's a mistake to expect marriage or motherhood to meet our deepest needs.
We can be honest with God about what we desire. But until He provides the legitimate context to fulfill those desires, we have to learn to be content with unfulfilled longings.
In addition, we have to realize that the deepest longings of our hearts cannot be filled by any created person or thing. This is one of the most liberating truths I have discovered in my own spiritual journey. For years, I looked to people and circumstances to make me happy. Time after time, when they failed to come through, I would find myself disgruntled and disappointed.
Every created thing is guaranteed to disappoint us. Things can burn or break or be stolen or get lost. People can move or change or fail or die. It took the loss of some of my dearest friends some years ago to awaken me to the Truth that I would always live in a state of disappointment if I was looking to people to satisfy me at the core of my being.
I have talked with many single women—some of them godly, committed believers—about their struggle with loneliness and their longing for God to bring them a husband. On occasion I find myself reminding these precious women of something they already know in their head—that marriage is not necessarily a cure for loneliness. We all know married women who struggle with a deep sense of loneliness and isolation.
The fact is there is no man on the face of the earth who can satisfy the deepest longings of a woman’s heart. God has made us in such a way that we can never be truly satisfied with anything or anyone less than Himself (Ps. 16:11; 34:8–10).
Whether married or single, we must recognize that it is not wrong to have unfulfilled longings—they do not make us any less spiritual. We must learn to accept those longings, surrender them to God, and look to Him to meet the deepest needs of our hearts.
Adapted from Lies Women Believe: And the Truth That Sets Them Free. © 2018 Revived Hearts Foundation. Published by Moody Publishers. Used with permission.