Every Tuesday I spend the afternoon at Choices, a pregnancy care center in Chattanooga. As a patient advocate, I enter a room with a woman I have never met, during some of the most taxing moments of her life. The premise of my job is to assess how we can walk with her during the coming days, weeks, and months. I have one hour, and I get deep very quickly. I ask questions that dig into her most painful emotion, her greatest fear, her most prevalent wounds. As we enter into topics like trauma, abuse, sex, assault, poverty, family dysfunction, rape, unemployment, love, betrayal, homelessness, manipulation, and babies, I witness her transition. She begins to experience the freedom that comes with being seen. Her shoulders relax. Her tears flow. Her voice strengthens as I bear witness to her harshest realities. She feels her situation begin to normalize as she moves toward acceptance. I witness each week these dear women shift from complete panic and despair to hope.

In his new book, The Soul of Desire, Dr. Curt Thompson condenses the above paragraph into quite possibly the most beautiful sentence I’ve ever read, “It’s in inquiring that we take the necessary next steps of creating beauty and goodness out of the traumas and tragedies of our lives.” This book arrived on my doorstep and unknowingly kicked off two weeks of self-analysis. A few life circumstances left me questioning who I am, why I feel what I feel, and how do I move forward, living out all that God has created me to be. I’m the kinda gal who holds relational boundaries fiercely. Not out of a desire to protect me, but rather because I know I can be too much for others.

Dr. Thompson’s words continue to embolden me during this journey of self-reflection. They give me the courage to see myself with open eyes and even more importantly, to freely see myself as God has created me to be. My husband says while he doles out love by the teaspoon, I heap it on the heads of others with buckets. I have often felt something was off about me. What makes me so desperate to continue the process of relating? Why am I overwhelmed when the potential of being known feels threatened? Weeks of processing, asking the Holy Spirit to shine his light on my soul, while reading Soul of Desire have resulted in confidence to live out my role in God’s kingdom with ferocity. My image-bearing, people-loving, desperate desire to know and be known is a God-given response that pleases him and blesses me. I hate the desperate places housing the women who come to Choices. But I’m beyond blessed that I have the privilege of meeting them there, feeling for them and with them. Together, we find a way forward.

“[The Holy Trinity] is in the business of loving us in order to expand our desire to love him, ourselves, and others in response. And the expansion of our love is measured in terms of our joy in being who we were made to be, people who long to be known and to know–for the purpose of creating beauty, not least in the places where we would least expect it to emerge. It all begins with God’s inquiry.”

Dr. Curt Thompson, The Soul of Desire p. 182