Yearning is Our Calling

Are you ever surprised by a strong emotion that comes upon you with a life of its own? I was, a few days ago, and it took me a bit of time to decipher its message.

The Loneliness

Recently, I woke with a deep feeling of loneliness that ached all the way from my core to my fingertips. It was a tugging, yearning feeling. 

Now, it wasn’t necessarily confusing; due to a temporary, unique circumstance, I’ve been living alone for the past two weeks, farther from my family than usual, my partner and dearest friends being far away and exceptionally busy, and social events continuing to be disallowed in Ontario. The origin of the loneliness was not its surprising feature.

Rather, what surprised me was the loneliness' strength, the depth of the yearning I felt within it. It felt like when I'd reach for something on a top shelf, and my fingertips could maybe graze it, but not grasp it. My stretch would extend from my toes, through my calves and spine, to the tips of my fingers. Every muscle would be engaged. The reaching of my body aiming for something on the top shelf felt the same as the reaching of my soul within that loneliness.

Understanding the Ache

Oftentimes, providing my emotions with understanding is enough to soften or even entirely relieve them, but not this time. That ache wanted to stick around. Its real message hadn’t yet been heard. I was blessed enough to have plenty of free time that morning, so I was able to turn first to prayer and then get outside for a run through a nearby forest trail.

The run was beautiful. The clouds were laid out in an arrangement of identical puffs that collected and swept in a curving triangle over the line of the trees. The sun illuminated each leaf its truest green. Each home’s garden that I passed was in peak bloom. When a sparrow swooped overhead, the resolution of my loneliness arrived. I’d always loved watching birds fly. This particular one was playing in the air currents, using its wings to lift, then folding them in to drop its sleek black body down, and repeating. It carried itself in these oscillations toward me, and passed close over my head. As I watched it pass, I considered the pursuits of its life. When I watched it dipping through the air, I first envied it, thinking how lovely it would feel to carry oneself like that, being completely present in each single moment in the air. But the bird was likely not present in each single moment. Birds, too, yearn ceaselessly. Through the seasons, they work in patterns of searching for food and shelter, searching for a mate, searching for a nesting spot, searching for food for their young, and repeat unto death. In becoming cognizant of this little bird’s lifelong yearning, I was able to understand my own.

I realized that my loneliness was not a state to mourn. In fact, existing in the moment of longing itself was good. It showed that I was aware of my direction. It proved I was en route to my fulfillment. When I put that emotion of loneliness into the full landscape of eternity, it is, in fact, quite a wise perception. I ought to be grateful to it. My loneliness shows me accurately the fact that I am not yet at the end meant for me. 

Running the Course

Us human beings exist in movement upon the dimensions of time and space. Time moves forward and space stretches out everything upon it like dots on an elastic band. Our existence here is transit. We are made to be within moments of transformation. God intends us to live with longing. We are not built to chase satisfaction, but to be satisfied in the chase. 

I think of a Bible verse that has remained a favourite since I first started putting my heart into reading scripture: “But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24, NRSVCE). Here, ever courageous and humble St. Paul is recorded by St. Luke praying and speaking with Ephesian church elders, letting them know that he won’t be able to see them again and that they should persist in following Christ. St. Paul emphasizes that his sole motivation is to finish his course, complete his race, consummate his mission. This is the calling of all Christians, and, since Christ draws all of us to himself (John 12:32), ideally the calling of all people. 

How much sense does it make, then, that we should almost always exist in a state of yearning? Our entire purpose on earth is a pursuit of something. We are “drawn toward” and we are “racing.” We are moving. Time moves us, space moves us, God's calling for us moves us. We are far from our intended end. We have not yet arrived.

In my recent loneliness, I was yearning to be closer to the people dear to me. When we yearn for people, or other good things near to us but not within our grasp, we are simply reaching for proximal placeholders that point us toward Heaven. There is a glimmer of Christ in everyone (Genesis 1:27; John 14:20), and it is Him, not solely, but primarily, that we yearn for when we reach for the people dear to us. 

God's creation is good, and that sparrow was good. Through that good sparrow I was given consolation in my state of yearning. I was able to understand a fragment more of what it might mean to accept this life of transit, pursuit and mission. That understanding softened my loneliness, and allowed it to be something not to resist, but rather to dearly cherish. My yearning is a revelation of my calling. It shows me more clearly my true purpose and position. It is an emotion that belongs.



“With my whole heart I seek you; / do not let me stray from your commandments.” (Psalm 119:10)



Articles Home Page

1 comment

Anna-Maria Neusy

Wow!! I love this!!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published