Hey JS 🙂 re: your last post, how does one want something badly enough to do whatever it takes to get it? I think the problem for me with these things is actually wanting to stop. Can I make myself want something?
A very awesome question.
The tough truth is: it’s impossible to make yourself want something.
In fact, God is against making someone want something too. It’s not His nature to do that, which is why He gave us free will. God can only draw us to Himself, and ultimately we choose. This is a big clue into what you’re asking.
If you “want to want” something, you’re already heading the right direction. Let’s keep in mind: this is a messy, mixed up process with no easy formulas that will require you to have some grace for yourself.
It would be nice to be passionately on-fire all the time, but life is life. Just be thankful you’re alive. And do not merely grade the emotional component as the definition of passion — there is a lot more.
So let’s try two more things together.
1) The more you know something, the more desirable it becomes.
You’ve probably heard me say before that the more you get to know someone, the more you fall in love with them, and the more you fall in love with someone, the more you get to know them.
This doesn’t just work with relationships, but in all sorts of behavioral and emotional patterns. The more knowledge you can gather on something, the more you gather to act on in response.
For example: when I quit porn, I researched both the advantages of quitting and the disadvantages of not quitting. I found that quitting porn would rewire my brain into healthier dopamine levels with increased productivity in every area of life, while the disadvantage of porn would be a high percentage of erectile dysfunction and a direct endorsement of human trafficking and sex slavery.
Knowledge can increase desire, and desire can increase our knowledge.
This is why I believe that when someone begins to know God as He really is, the more they will fall in love with Him. It’s not because God coerces anyone, but exactly because He doesn’t have to. He woos us into Himself: and we find He is awesome and He is enough.
For Christians then, our every motive is out of God’s love, who invokes us to love. When I know how much God truly loves me, I find it easier and easier to go all out for Him, just as He went all out for me.
2) Do the thing you want to do, and you will want to do it more.
I used to say this cute thing all the time that “God cares less about what you’re doing but more about the person you’re becoming.”
I still believe that’s true, but in a much more balanced way. I believe what we “do” is just as important as who we “become,” and both can influence each other because they’re so interconnected.
An example: When the Nazis first began killing Jews, it was because the Nazis hated them. But soon, the Nazis hated the Jews because the Nazis were killing them. Feelings led to action, but action led to feelings too.
C.S. Lewis says it more succinctly:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”
Sometimes this means just acting upon what you think you’d want even if you don’t want it. This is NOT legalism. It’s effort. Legalism is when you do something to earn God, which forfeits His grace. Effort is when you take initiative of action, which relies on God’s grace.
You don’t have to “feel” a want to want something. You can apologize even when you don’t feel like it, and then set out to correct it. Soon you’ll find yourself really sorry and really wanting to make it better.
You can admit you’re wrong even if you don’t feel like it, and then seek to humble yourself. Soon you’ll find a lot that you did wrong and know with certainty that you are not right all the time.
Feelings are natural and they can fuel your actions, but they don’t get to determine the course of your life. They don’t get to say who you are.
We spend a lot of time waiting to want something before we act on it, but that’s like the writer who waits half a lifetime for inspiration — he should’ve just been writing anyway.
I understand we don’t want to be soulless robots, but sometimes acting first makes us more human and not less. I don’t think we should let our desires drag us by the leash, which would actually make us less human. It’s too easy, too simplistic, and too much of a cover-up for justified stupidity.
If you know it’s right but you don’t feel like it, just make the effort to do it anyway. God will give you grace on every step, and soon you’ll have the desire with it. They are connected, neither one having priority over the other, and I believe God made us this way so we could have multiple angles from which to approach a decision.
I’ll leave you with Lewis again:
“”Don’t bother too much about your feelings. When they are humble, loving, brave, give thanks for them; when they are conceited, selfish, cowardly, ask to have them altered. In neither case are they you, but only a thing that happens to you. What matters is your intentions and your behavior”