From Matins (aka Office of Readings) for today, from Psalm 10:
"For the wicked man boasts of his heart's desires;
the covetous blasphemes and spurns the Lord.
In his pride the wicked says, 'He will not punish.
There is no God.' Such are his thoughts."
All of us have heart's desires. For most of us, most of the time, what we desire isn't any sort of great evil; and most of the time, again, when we do desire something evil, we recognize it and resist that temptation. All that is good, and it means we're growing in faith and holiness, more or less.
There's another layer here that's caught my attention recently, and I was arrested by it again this morning as I read this Psalm. Sometimes, the good things we desire can be desired wrongly. We covet, as the Psalm says, rather than submit. In little pockets of our life, we let our own will, rather than God's will, dominate. I may let God choose what I desire, but I'm going to choose how I desire it, and how I pursue it. We think, as the Psalm says, God won't punish us for wanting something good, because of the goodness of the thing desired, even if we want or pursue it in a selfish or self-serving way. Or in other words, we want the fruit of the Cross, without having to walk the path to Calvary with that great heavy Cross on our shoulders.
Here's a practical example, that always challenges me: most of us don't take criticism well. Another verse says, "If a good man strikes or reproves me, it is kindness," but mostly we don't live up to that ideal. We don't look at the goodness of the person trying to tell us we're wrong, we only see the striking and reproving, and we don't like it. Frankly, it hurts, even when it's true and needed. We close our hearts, then, to the truth (as it so often is) of what we're being criticized for.
If this Psalm convicts us of having this interior struggle between my will and God's will, what to do? This is part of my journey, too, and I don't have answers here. What do you think? Prayer is obviously needed, but what kind of prayer works for this further step in our journey of conversion? Spiritual direction can also be very useful, but how to be open to it? How do we accept the fruits of our spiritual discipline in this way, so as to bring these little corners of our rampant will under God's kingship?