The word “yearn” has cropped up quite a bit in conversation lately. My friend Rosemary admits that she doesn’t yearn very much anymore, yet yearns to yearn more. I yearn too much, wanting and wishing for what I can’t (and maybe shouldn’t) have. It’s a good word, though, yearn. It reaches beyond desire to an almost physical sensation of hunger and thirst. It is the greatest “want” there is. It makes “hanker” sound quaint and “long” seem wishy-washy. “Covet” is mean and small in “yearn’s” wake. Yearning is pure.

But as much as I yearn for God, I’ve never much yearned to follow His will. After all, what if his will isn’t what I want? What if it’s tough — too tough for the likes of a yearner like me? And then I read something that changed everything. Ron DelBene, a highly regarded spiritual author, writes that the word “will,” in the Biblical sense, is translated from Hebrew and Greek words meaning “‘yearning,’ the kind of yearning that lovers have for one another.”*

Let that sink in for a moment. God yearns for us. His will isn’t just some random dictate from above; it’s a loving longing for us, toward us. The heavy-handed autocrat of the Old Testament is really just a squishy ol’ teddy bear, our biggest fan and devotee. When you put it that way, how can we possibly refuse Him?

So now I yearn to do God’s will. I yearn to fulfill His yearnings for me. Because He loves me that much. And I never could resist a fellow yearner.

* Source: “The Practice of Discernment” from Love, Mercy, Justice: A Book of Practices of the Sisters of Providence