We believe that God created us with seven basic, universal desires. Each of us desires to be heard and understood, affirmed, blessed, safe, touched, chosen, and included. Having and fulfilling these desires validates our very existence. If these basic desires are fulfilled, we will enjoy a deeper and richer relationship with God and others.
God put these seven desires deep inside our souls for good reasons. When we understand our desires and realize that they are the same for everyone, we can live in deeper and more meaningful community. Finding our commonalities draws us toward one another. Giving and receiving these desires allows us to connect with each other in truly intimate ways. Understanding our desires also helps us discover our true need for God. He is the only One who can truly satisfy our desires at the deepest level of our soul.
In part one of our series on The Seven Desires of Every Heart, we’ll unpack the first four desires. Let’s begin!
Heard & Understood
This is the desire to be known. We want to be understood and believed when we share our feelings or thoughts. We all like people who will listen to us and help us feel safe when we talk. Who have been the good listeners in your life? When we don’t feel that someone else is listening, we might say, You’re not hearing me and you just don’t get it. We might raise our voice believing that the other person is hearing impaired. We might interrupt and repeat ourselves. Ultimately, some of us get angry and tantrum-like when we don’t feel heard and understood.
Affirmations are about being noticed, appreciated or thanked for things we’ve done. We all like to be told, You’re doing a great job. When someone tells you thank you, they are giving you an affirmation. Who have been the affirming people in your life? We guess that they are those you look to with great affection for the positive influence they had on you.
When we don’t get affirmed we may strive to please others by performing more and doing things perfectly. We might try to please in any way we can. Some of you received anti-affirmation or criticism. You may have been told you never do it right or you are corrected every time you do something. If this was the case, you may have given up trying. Do you see how the presence or absence of affirmation can form your core beliefs?
This desire sounds similar to affirmation, but it’s different. Affirmation is about what you do, blessing is about who you are. To be blessed is to know that you are unconditionally loved. You are celebrated. A smile comes to the face of those who bless you when you enter the room. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to earn the blessing. A father may tell a son, I’m just grateful that you are my son, that you were born. That is a blessing. We also know the blessing when we make mistakes or really screw up and people continue to love us even though they may be disappointed about our behavior.
There is such a thing as “anti-blessing” when we hear that we are no good or hopeless or unworthy. We actually had a client once whose mother told him regularly, I regret the day you were born. When we don’t receive blessing, we can confuse blessing and affirmation and believe that we need to perform or amount to something to be loved. We may even become self-centered to the point of narcissism, always talking about ourselves and our accomplishments. Those that struggle with both affirmation and blessing could become the workaholics of the world.
We all long to have what we need to live safely in this world, including money to provide for our basic needs, good health, a place to live, and meaningful relationships. When we don’t have those things, we can feel very anxious. Also, we all have a certain amount of anxiety just because we are alive. God has given us that emotion as part of our survival response to the world. The challenge with anxiety is that it is a large emotion and most of us will try to ‘dumb it down’ to more specific things.
Some of us obsess about having enough money. Some of us get overly concerned about health issues. In relationship we may be anxious about being all alone and seek to manipulate or placate another person so that we will be sure that he or she will never leave. Mark picks out very specific things to almost symbolize he is safe in the world. One of them is grass. When it is mowed and looks very tidy, he believes that everything is right with the world and that he is safe.
Those of us who grow up in chaotic and unsafe homes may have developed a more acute sense of anxiety and we seek to control many things about our environment and relationships to be safe. Even in the present, if there are significant things that are out of your control, you will probably try and find something you can control.
Continue reading about The Seven Desires with part two of our series.