These past weeks on the Catholic Bird Lover, we’ve been talking about discernment and the importance of our desires, our dreams. But have you ever struggled to know what exactly your desires are?
For many reasons (long story short: original sin), our hearts are mysteries to ourselves. Perhaps deep down we consider our desires not good or we fear failure if we pursue them.
But to quote a priest’s homily, desires are promises from God. God gave us these desires for a reason. To pursue them. And though these desires weren’t written in a clear how-to pamphlet when we were born, they are written in our hearts. And in his still, small voice, God reveals them to us.
These desires range from our deepest desires, the desires for God and happiness, to more superficial desires, such as a desire for ice cream. Today I want to discuss medium-level desires. Specifically, my desire to be a writer.
Read on for five ways, God continuously reminds me of my desire to be a writer. Let me know in the comments below if he’s used any of these with you!
1. Childhood Mementos
Childhood is a simpler stage of life. Before the world has taught us to judge ourselves harshly and to be afraid of failure, we are in touch with our hearts. It’s no wonder Jesus encourages us to be like little children.
Luckily for me, I have a sentimental side. I’ve kept many childhood mementos. Among the notebooks, old homeworks, and pictures, you’ll find stories. A story about Lizzie the lizard’s daily adventures is written in the shaky print of a 4th grader. There’s a story about an unloved girl with magical powers that left my middle school classmates begging for more. You’ll even find an early version of a dark story about an abusive husband written in high school (you can read that story here).
The fact that I held onto these stories at all is proof that writing is important to me. Even more telling is that I was writing from childhood. When I was a child, I desired to write.
What desires from childhood still lay in your heart?
2. Fictional Characters
Stories whether in written, visual, or audible form keep us human. Fictional stories in particular help us get in touch with deeper truths. Ten people might read the same story and come away with a different conviction. The Holy Spirit isn’t limited to Bible stories after all.
Recently, I watched the kdrama True to Love. The story follows Bo-ra, a dating coach and influencer, through a catastrophic break-up. The story does an excellent job of portraying healthy relationships and the reality of break-ups. But it wasn’t Bo-ra’s love story that captivated me. It was her career. She was a writer. And through her writing, she impacted lives.
Is it really possible to impact lives through writing?
We live in a world of Youtube and Instagram. Attention spans have dropped and no one seems to read anymore. If one wants to impact lives, then visual media seems the most appropriate route. Even so, my heart doesn’t beat when watching TV shows about Youtubers. It beats when watching writers portrayed on the screen.
Reader, do you have a fictional character that’s living out your dream?
3. My Talents
Even as I write this post, a small smile of satisfaction rests on my face. It’s a small taste of God’s satisfaction when looking down at his Creation he found it good.
Writing is a talent of mine. Necessarily, I have a desire to pursue it. And when I write well, I desire to do it better. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he says to the one who has, more will be given (Mt 13:12). The more I write, the more I want to write and the better I become.
This is distinct from sinful pride at my own talents. My satisfaction at my work is just as great regardless of whether anyone reads it or not. In giving us talents, God gives us the desire to pursue them. Just as in the parable of the talents, I am called to multiply my gifts.
What is a talent God has given you?
4. The Things I Nerd Out About
Have you ever found yourself talking at rapid speed, spilling all your knowledge about a really cool topic, only to find that your audience’s eyes have glazed over? The same topic that makes your heart race and sends little thrills down your spine is gut-wrenchingly boring to others.
The things we nerd out about are neon arrows that are labelled: your desires!
I have always nerded out about writing. How did the author get my stomach to clench with anxiety? How is this plot twist both surprising and completely logical?
I remember in particular a passage from Jane Austen’s Persuasion (ch 23). Anne and Captain Wentworth, a broken-up couple that never quite fell out of love, are sitting in a parlor listening to two ladies chat in the room. The ladies are chatting about their disapproval of long engagements (a jab to Anne and Wentworth). Jane Austen writes this:
At the same moment that her [Anne’s] eyes instinctively glanced towards the distant table, Captain Wentworth’s pen ceased to move, his head was raised, pausing, listening, and he turned round the next instant to give a look, one quick, conscious look at her.
Without a word exchanged, a whole conversation is relayed. That Captain Wentworth is not as engrossed in his letter as he seems. That Anne’s first instinct is to seek out her ex. That it is his first instinct as well. I could write a whole paper on this topic, but I will end with this. I nerd out about good writing, because I desire to produce good writing in my own turn.
What do you nerd out about?
5. Role Models
Lastly, God uses role models to stir my desires. Finding people who I admire, who are living out the life I want for myself, stirs my desires to life. These people are proof that my desires aren’t just dreams, illusions. They are proof that my desires are possible.
Recently, I traveled to LA to meet Morgan Matson (you can read about that here). She is the author of my favorite book, Since You’ve Been Gone. And though I followed her on Instagram, she felt as fictional as her characters. I mean, a person making a living as a writer? How could that be real?
On meeting her, the illusion became tangible. And my heart yearned for it. It reminded me that writing isn’t just a hobby, but something written in my heart. You can thank this interaction for the fact that I’m here now, on this blog, writing.
Who are your role models?
My desires are constantly affirmed through day-to-day instances like watching TV shows. The desire to write has been in my heart since I learned to hold a pencil. I don’t know quite what will come of it, but I do know this: God gave us our desires for a reason. He wants us to pursue them. So here I am, pursuing.
Remember to check out my last two posts on discernment. And follow the column for more!