Every day I take a bitter pill that gets me on my way / For all the little aches and pains the ones I have from day to day / To help me think a little less about the things I miss / To help me not to wonder how I ended up like this / And the sky turns to fire / against a telephone wire / And even I’m getting tired of useless desires. – Patty Griffin
Useless desires. That’s what these are.
What good comes from my desire to be intimate with another man? That question is almost so embarrassing I won’t even put it on an anonymous blog — and yet it is a question that colors my prayer life. What is the POINT, God? Why are these stupid things here?
It’s like my dad told me to cut the lawn, and gave me a trimmer, a lawnmower, and an automatic rifle. My dad’s not one to make mistakes about these things, but what on earth am I supposed to do with the damn gun? It’s useless.
But even that’s not quite right. As I look around me, I realize that my desires are useful. The kinds of desires I have can be used to separate parents and children, to drive young men into hedonism and heedlessness, to rip apart husbands and wives, to destroy, and destroy, and destroy some more. The gun comparison is apt. This sort of sexual passion is powerful.
And yet, Saint Paul says:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I don’t understand why this desire is here, no more than I understand cancer, no more than I understand hurricanes. But I do rest in the promise that I am not capable of giving, the promise given to me, that in this — as in all things — I am “more than a conqueror” if I submit myself to the will of the living God.
Patty Griffin sings about taking a “bitter pill” that “helps me not to wonder how I ended up like this”. I’ve tasted that pill, and seen the world through pill-colored glasses. It’s a bit like being in the Matrix. Cypher says, “You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.”
But you know what? Ignorance is hell on me, and hell on those around me. To live in a fantasy world where my desire isn’t useless, where it becomes the fulcrum of my life, where I somehow existentially “embue” it with meaning — that would mean abandoning my daddy, my brother, my precious God, who wants, more than anything, my good. Make my desire useless, Lord, that I myself might be used by You.