I've been mulling over the video/essay and question at SSJE today for some time. The part of the essay that strikes me most is this statement: "[W]hat we’re yearning after, what we’re desiring in life will shape who we are. And if wealth is what we desire more than anything – or success, or prestige, or social status, or fame, or popularity, what we desire most deeply – then those desires will shape the kind of person that we become."

Now, I believe this. I've believed it for a long time. 

And then the question: "What desires are shaping who you're becoming right now?"

Now the question is harder to consider. Looking at this from the opposite angle stops me cold. I've felt like a deer in the headlights all day. I hate it when this happens. I feel myself becoming frantic, looking for the "right answer." I am not able to let the true answer rise up from within.

And given the fact that this whole series has shined a light on the fact that I really think I am Not Living Right, I feel that the question is really an urgent one.

Many of us women were raised to be pleasers. (Men, too, of course, although I hear a lot more of this from women.) We are not taught to pay attention to our own desires but to the desires of others. Or perhaps it goes this say: we are taught NOT to pay attention to our own desires but to the desires of others. In my case, I see both at play. But often, the former is stronger. I have (sometimes a lot of) trouble knowing what my own desires are.

I often find myself wishing that someone would just tell me what to do and then I can respond or react. It is often only within the context of someone else's desires that I am able to recognize my own. Striking off on my own feels somewhat dangerous. Or presumptuous. Or self-centered.

In our family lore, we have a great story about my mother in law. We used to ask her what she wanted for Christmas and she always said that she didn't want anything. One year, she broke down and mentioned a sweater. But she very quickly thought better of it and called to say that she didn't really want a sweater; she didn't want anything. My husband told her, "Too bad; we are going to get you a sweater."

Her response was that if he really was going to do that, then he should get her a crummy sweater, and not a nice one. Tom and I still smile over this and sometimes one of us mentions that we want a crummy sweater.

But truly she had trouble saying what she wanted. I didn't always know if she just didn't want to say, didn't feel she deserved, or if she just didn't know. Either way, I'm sure it made her feel bad about herself sometimes. I know it makes me feel bad about myself when I can't even say what I want because I'm staring into this great void inside me and the harder I look, the more elusive the answers are, and the worse I feel.

So how do I answer the question? What desires are shaping who I'm becoming right now?

I will have to keep thinking. But this comes to mind about how I know I often react:

And so I am grateful that the Brothers at SSJE remind me that this question begins and ends in prayer.