I recently treaded through very dangerous waters as I made the brave decision to pray the Litany of Humility. If this is the first time you’re hearing of this prayer, it basically involves a repeated petition for several desires/fears that we ask deliverance from in order to become… well, more humble. (i.e. from the fear of being forgotten… deliver me, Jesus)
Catholics like to joke that it’s the most dangerous prayer to pray because ‘ask (for humility) and you shall receive (humiliation).’ Jokes aside, this is obviously a stretch and a misunderstanding of how the Lord works. In His love, He gives us opportunities to grow in virtue and love of Him, through this prayer. But, I digress!
The second line of the prayer strikes specifically hard as we pray “from the desire to be loved… deliver me, Jesus.”
Initially, I thought, did I read that correctly?
This beautiful desire to be seen, acknowledged and known by a person. The same one I believed we were literally created for. I’m now supposed to be praying for it to be gone? How can this be?
My confused heart ran to the internet and discovered that although our desire to be loved is indeed an innate gift we each have… because of the fall and the state of our human hearts, this gift tends to express itself in distorted ways. How so? Well, perhaps a young boy whose father is too “busy” to give him the love and attention he desires and deserves will develop a competitive complex. He’ll work incredibly hard in school, tirelessly try to excel in every sport – all to be acknowledged and praised for his achievements since he may not believe in his own worth anymore.
In a more personal example, a girl who doesn’t see beauty in herself may grasp to receive the validation she seeks. Her longing may be expressed through immodest dress, an addiction to makeup, and the belief that her worth lies in her appearance. Her desire for love is not bad, but her idea of where and how to receive this warped idea of “love” is.
So, no, we’re not praying for this ‘desire for love’ to dissipate, but for it to be redeemed and to be better understood. So, practically speaking, how can we do this?
#1 Understanding the desire
Every single one of our desires, when properly understood, leads us to God. My spiritual director once explained to me that even a man knocking on the door to a brothel is an example of this. From the outside looking in, we see a man who wants sex. That is all. But when we properly dissect & understand his heart, we see a man who seeks intimacy and love. Even this corrupt worldly pursuit points us to our Creator. As Christopher West describes it, “we are creatures who long for infinite beauty but often get stuck on its finite reflection”.
The examples of authentic love that we have here on earth are beautiful… but they merely foreshadow the eternal communion of love that we were created for.
So, crack the code on your longings. Do an examination. Why do you really want everyone in your youth group to love you? Why do you honestly search for validation in all that you do?
Ask God what He wishes to reveal through your desire for affection & how you can grow more in love with Him through them.
#2 Stop grasping
This word has such powerful imagery to me. I imagine clenched fists, claw marks all around. There’s almost this unsatiated feeling surrounding it.
Most times, our tendency to grasp for love may seem like just that… an inevitable proclivity because we live in a world that’s bought into this “survival of the fittest” mindset.
“If you want something, get it.”
The problem with this is that if we truly believed in the gift that the Lord is giving us, all we would need to do is hold our hands out in confidence to receive it. But because of our lack of trust in His love, we grasp at counterfeits.
Stop. Slow down.
You need not work for the love you desire.
Trust in the Father’s love for you. There’s no need to go out in grand pursuits when you can stare at a crucifix and see His infinite love right there. From there, His love pours. Have faith in all that He will provide.
#3 Break the cycle
The reality is, we live in a broken world. There have been several times in my personal life when I’ve failed to see the dignity of those around me. In that same way, the difficult truth is that others will often fail to see mine.
How can we break this cycle? By loving well.
Not because karma will return the love back to its sender but because the ones who hurt us may be the ones who need our love most.
If we believe that we were created with this desire for love, is it not true then that every other human person is created with it, too? Then we must love even when it’s most difficult. This is the great paradox that Jesus teaches us on the cross.
Well, friends. In conclusion, your desire for love is beautiful. If you have found yourself grasping for it, you are not broken… you’re human. I pray that each of you may find redemption in this gift and may use it in the way that our Father has perfectly willed.
Jesus, from the desire for love, gratification, praise, and honor… deliver us, oh Lord.