The kind of “deep” desires that we refer to here doesn’t necessarily mean our strongest desires, but rather, the most urgent, the most all-encompassing of our identity. The deeper we go and the more personal our desires are, the more universal they usually are.
Being loved is hugely important to each of us—it’s a deep need and desire. But our deepest fulfillment is not found in being loved, but in loving. True love is giving one’s self away, a self that no longer clings to selfishness, but puts the beloved one(s) first. As we come to a fuller understanding of who we are, we also start to see our deepest needs and desires, in all their beauty, urgency and intensity—desires and needs that are not determined by sin and egoism but have been placed in our hearts by God. It is in these deepest needs and desires that we can glimpse God’s “dreams” for us, because God often speaks to us through them.
A popular paraphrase of Saint Augustine is: “Love, and do what you will!” Psalm 37:4 goes even further, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (NRSV). When our hearts—and thus our entire beings—are directed towards God, then God can use our heart’s desire to draw us to himself.
Each of us is unique, unrepeatable, created out of love and for Love. Discovering and living fully God’s call for us is the key to our happiness—God knows the deep desires of our hearts better than we do. God calls us to be holy in a way that makes our hearts tick, and our personalities click.
Coming to understand ourselves and the true desires of our hearts are important parts of our “character arc” on our discernment journey. Growing in this self-understanding will help us to eventually respond to God wholeheartedly because we will see how our desires are in harmony with God’s desires for us.