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The Pain of Denial

Picture of Day 11 in the Theology of Desire Devotional

My newest book titled A Theology of Desire will be available in Kindle format in time for use as an Advent devotional! I'm really excited to share these contemplations about intimacy, consummation, and the longing of God. Here's an excerpt, to whet your appetite.

Day 11: The Pain of Denial

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,

if you find my beloved,

that you tell him that I languish with love.

(Song of Songs 5:8 DRA)

Love is often messy and complicated. Sometimes we fall in love with a person who doesn’t love us back. Sometimes we love someone who can’t be in relationship with us.

There is suffering in these situations of self-denial. There is the pain of restrained love; pain in wanting to unleash love and comfort and giving and sharing but having to stop. Having to hold back out of a greater love, and a greater desire for the best of the beloved.

I think this kind of pain reflects God’s experience of loving us. They could lavish us if they desired, unleashing love so magnificently that it would remove our ability to choose to love them back, because in our ravishment, there would only be YES. Instead, God gives us the opportunity to reach for them out of our own love.

Allow your heart to go there for a minute. Think about what union with your creator would feel like, in your body and your spirit. Consider how your very atoms would respond. And then pull back, and feel the loss. Experience the distance.

When we can’t consummate the love we feel for another human, we mimic our God who also denies themself consummation.

Our aching will be fulfilled at the moment our bodies give up life. But God will continue to ache in their desire to consummate with all creation, throughout the eons.

The whole life of the good Christian is a holy longing. What you desire ardently, as yet you do not see... by withholding of the vision, God extends the longing, through longing he extends the soul, by extending he makes room in it. Let us long because we are to be filled... that is our life, to be exercised by longing.

St. Augustine

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