This is part two of our series The Seven Desires of Every Heart. Read part one here.
We think there are two kinds of desire for touch. One is for sexual touch. We are born with and develop at the right age, a desire to be sexual and to be “fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). This is very normal and natural. We also have a simpler desire to be touched in non-sexual ways. Babies are born with this and when they don’t get enough human touch, they will have a ‘failure to thrive’ and may even stop growing. We don’t think we ever outgrow this desire and that many of the people who come to us are touch deprived.
The sex addicts who come to us have confused the two needs for touch. They may have the belief that the only way to be touched is to be sexual. Their pursuit of sex can be overwhelming and addictive because they just can’t get enough touch. Those they are married to may push them away, even though it may cause them to be neglected of touch. We (Mark & Debbie) had to go through a very intentional time of saying to each other, I desire to be touched or I would like to touch you and this is not about wanting to be sexual right now.
Being chosen means that someone else has expressed a desire to be with us and only us. We feel cherished and special. This could be a friend or, ultimately, a spouse. We can all remember those childhood days when we talked about having a best friend. Our daughter at one point had one of those heart necklaces where she wore half the heart and her friend wore the other half. The desire to be chosen is the desire to be desired.
Historically we may have gone to great lengths to be attractive to others. Why else are our cosmetic and plastic surgery industries so popular? What have you done in your life to be more choosable? Ultimately, being chosen is about mate selection. We desire to be chosen by one person with whom we will spend the rest of our life. This is the desire for being special and for exclusivity. This is the desire that those spouses who look at pornography or have an affair trample all over.
This desire is related to the desire to be chosen, except we desire to be chosen to be in a larger group. It is the desire to belong. When we think about this, both of us think back to our grade school and junior high experiences. Out on the playground, we wanted to play with the cool kids. When playing games, we wanted to be picked early and not last to be on a team. In the lunch room, we wanted to sit at the table with the “in” crowd.
Then, of course, we get to high school and maybe college. Now we want to be in the right clubs, organizations, and fraternities or sororities. Later in life we may long to live in the right neighborhoods, go to the right churches, and socialize in the right circles. Today there is even an abbreviation that young people use—FOMO—fear of missing out—that perfectly describes this desire to be included.
All through life we long to belong. Have you ever felt left out or that you didn’t belong? It’s a lonely feeling and we make meanings about ourselves if we just don’t seem to fit in. Like the desire to be chosen, what have we done in our lives to be more attractive or acceptable so we have a better chance of being included? Have we ever said “yes” to someone or some group when we really wanted to say “no”?
For example, did we ever drink at a party or some social gathering so we would fit in? For both of the desires to be chosen and included we can feel very anxious about loneliness and isolation. This anxiety will drive us to do and say things that we will regret later just so we can avoid the experience of being left out.
The Problem with Our Desires
There’s a problem with our Seven Desires. They are so deep in our souls we don’t always consciously understand they exist. We feel them in our hearts, and we ache for them to be fulfilled, but we don’t know the source of that ache. Instead of realizing we have pain and loneliness because our desires are unfulfilled, we lead lives of quiet loneliness and frustration, lives laced with anger and bitterness. We hurt and we long for something more, but we often don’t even know what that “something more” is.
Often, we look to our relationships to fill us up. It’s not wrong, of course, to expect fulfillment and happiness from our closest relationships – but we run into trouble when we ask those relationships to do too much. We want to suggest, first, that God is both the creator of and the ultimate fulfillment of those seven desires. Second, only when we look to God first to fulfill our desires can we then also find our desires met by other people. When we look first to friends and family to fulfill our desires, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. But offering our desires first to God frees us to also have our desires met by other people, and to meet their desires too.
Desires Fulfilled in God
We believe through our faith that God hears us and understands us as He has known us since the beginning of our conception. We know that God affirms us and blesses us. God promises to keep us safe. God directs us to be in community and there to be touched in healthy ways. God chose us by sending us his only Son to die for our sins. Finally, God wants to include us in His kingdom for eternity. When we first look to God to fulfill the desires of our hearts, we believe that what we can then give to each other can be enough. Our marriages suffer when we expect that a spouse can give us all the desires of our heart all of the time.
It can be helpful to explore your own history to determine how well—or not—you received the Seven Desires when you were young. If you are not conscious of how you might have been deprived of some of these very important desires of your heart, you may notice that you have an insatiable appetite to get them met as an adult. That appetite can lead to unhealthy expectations of a spouse or unhealthy coping to relieve the pain and loss.