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The Seven Desires:Healing in the Present from the Past for the Future

Updated: Feb 13

These seven God-given human desires are written in every heart and are basic needs to our survival and flourishing.

  1. to be seen and understood

  2. to be chosen

  3. to be affirmed

  4. to be touched

  5. to be safe

  6. to be blessed

  7. to be loved

When these basics are not met during our development,we have seen they then lead to false ideas about ourselves, thus creating a set of core beliefs that are carried through into our adult life with perceptions and expectations rooted in such wounds resulting in behaviors that come to affect our relationships – with others, God, and ourselves, and not in a positive way.

This leaves a restless desire, a yearning to heal such wounds; though we may not know where they evolved from, we know the pain. The pain so familiar becomes likened to a dimmed flashing warning beacon, an intermittent reminder we are faulty somehow. When such desires are not met in the present, we react from a jolt of grief stored up within those buried memories, thus becoming the driver of our perceptions and expectations leading to disappointments and reactive negative behaviors.

"Our lives are shaped by the things we desire."

Thomas Merton

"Our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you."

Augustine of Hippo

How do we bring this pain to God, who desires to heal us and is the only One who could fulfill those desires completely, when we are experiencing either shame* from sins upon us, or guilt from difficulty in forgiving or our reactive unintentional or intentional sins or upon others? Most of us have difficulty knowing what and why it is happening in us, no less trying to talk about it.

From sin, we experience shame from sin inflicted upon us; and guilt from our sin upon ourselves and others.

For it is a sin that begets more sin (sin is moving away from grace and love), lending a sense of endless hopelessness and despair if we dare to tell the truth of such fears. We desire to be heard by our God. He wants us to talk to him, and we desire Him to listen.

"I cried out to God for help. I cried out to God to hear me." Psalm 77: 1-2
"Give ear and come to me, hear me that your soul may live". Isaiah 55:33

We desire God to take away our pain without considering what caused it. We want to hide from it. A pain we do not even know how to express its depth and breadth, or even where it resides with us, or how it came to be. We want to be delivered from it, to be removed instantly without our effort, for we are tired, exhausted from those shadows we shun.

When God does not respond as we expect, we fall into a downward spiral with a cacophony of voices filling our minds about our unworthiness. We experience disappointment, frustration, doubt, grief, despair, and a loss of hope. Yet it is only God who could fulfill those unmet desires if we only let Him in His way.

Faith heals the intellect

Hope heals our memories

Love heals the will

We need to be reminded of the reality that began at our creation and continues in every moment of our existence. In being dreamt of and created by God we were chosen to be included in His human and Trinitarian family, touched by His breath, blessed with gifts, affirmed as good and faithful servants, and safely held in His arms. At the same time, He knitted us in our mother's womb and continues in every moment of our existence in loving us, for we have been seen and understood.

We were chosen, yes, we are still chosen, and we will be chosen for He continues to call.

Acknowledging there were unfulfilled human desires at critical times in our lives, either due to sins of intent or omission by others, and wounds that can become triggered in the present is the first step, even though we do not know yet what is behind the pain. It is to not run away from the pain.

God is already there, waiting to help; when we are open to trust by accepting there are wounds to be unbound, we are called to by a leap of faith.

Even with our free will to take the leap of trust, we may even experience fear of what will be expected of us – to forgive. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Yet how do we begin to forgive when those sins upon us have caused us such unbearable pain? And not knowing why we automatically react to certain things either by freezing or boiling with anger from something seemingly unrelated? As if one cannot find out way out, for we are locked in fear when triggered at the mere thought of looking into that abyss.

We need to speak the truth to God and take courage from His grace, especially when we are afraid and confused.

Healing: Walk with Jesus

It is in letting Jesus gently walk you through - holding your hands – as you step together into those hidden shadows that we have trembled to go alone. And rightly so, we should not go there alone.*

I will be with you always. Do not be afraid.

There we let Him touch the wound. Let Him gently unfold those frozen places to bring His light of healing. Through shame due to the sins of others, we can now see through His eyes with compassion – we can come to know who we truly are in Him and allow His grace to be the salve as the way to forgive so as to be unburdened.

Then our hearts, once hollowed out by guilt, are now transformed through Him into a loving contrite heart that overflows with His merciful grace.

Interior Steps

Aware, understand and commit.

  • Ask to become aware of my desires and needs.

  • Ask to understand them, and if need be, ask for healing of the wounds.

  • Ask for the grace to see through Christ's eyes, to feel, speak and act with the mind of Christ to forgive others, to accept forgiveness, and forgive yourself.

*Due to the intensity of reflecting upon one's unmet desires, I recommend your spiritual director accompany you through these; or if you have experienced or experiencing anxiety or depression, you be accompanied along by your Catholic therapist or if you do not have one, to seek one out before you begin a self-directed retreat.

Do I need support from a friend in Christ?

In working with a spiritual director, you may cover:

  • What were my God-given desires?

  • Were they disordered or inordinate?

  • Could it be that my faulty or non-virtuous behavior are reactive from a misplaced or mistaken perception of who I really am?

  • What are my attachments? That I attach to or that it attached to me?

  • What faulty core beliefs are hiding within about myself or about others?

  • What unmet desire is holding back my interior freedom?

  • If there is a wound, am I ready to walk into it with Jesus' help?

What can we do day by day?

What can we do when our present desires are not being met? First is to become aware of when our present desires are not being met and how we have responded in thought and behavior. More often than not, our awareness kicks in after we have reacted in a way that was not our best self.

An increase of awareness comes naturally as we develop a virtuous habit of reflection in the prayer of a daily Examen. Here we look to train our cognitive brain to come online quicker and more effectively when the emotional brain is beginning to go awry, readying itself to protect against incoming leaving us with reactive behavior (with a formed conscience).

The Seven Desires Examen

The Examen is a daily prayer of recollection, a review of the day of who we encountered, of God's presence and action, and how we responded to the gifts of Himself, of creation, and of others. We ask God to help us see what He desires to show us so as to come to grow in holiness through those deepest desires He planted in us.

The EXAMEN Prayer has 5 Movements.

  1. Gratitude – Thanksgiving for the day's graces and gifts.

  2. Guidance –Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the day through Christ's eyes and for what He most wants you to take note of.

  3. Review – Who and/or what did you encounter? Discern the Holy Spirit's leading.

  4. Reflect - How did you respond? Why? Share your thoughts and feelings about what came up. Listen for the Spirit's guidance.

  5. Request - Share your concerns about tomorrow, and ask specifically for what you need. Commit to taking guided action.

Suggested Questions for Review, Reflect and Request

1. Who did I encounter today?

2. What were the graces and gifts received?

3. Of the seven desires, which one ________________(or more) was met today – by God, by others, by self?

How were they met?

What was my reaction/action /behavior?

What feelings and thoughts came up as they were met?

What memories were triggered in having my desire(s) met?

Notice how God calls you to more of the same desires to meet them for others.

Who did I listen to and understand?

Who did I affirm and bless?

Who felt safer with me, to be included in friendship?

4. Of my seven desires which one(s) _____________ was/were unmet today –by others, by self, or perceived as not by God?

What 'problem' or concern came up?

What emotion(s) was/were triggered?

What were the feelings or feelings of those emotions?

What were my thoughts?

What was my reaction/action/behavior?

What were my expectations?

Were they true?

Was it disordered or inordinate?

What was the truth in the situation: of the person, of myself, of God?

5.Of those seven unmet desires, ask God to walk with you to the past wound for healing and forgiveness for others and yourself.

Scriptures for Healing

El Roi means "The God who sees me."

Ro'iy in the original Hebrew can be translated as shepherd or as seeing, looking, or gazing.

Psalm 139:13-16

You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

15 My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;

my days were shaped, before one came to

Call of Jeremiah

4 The word of the Lord came to me:

5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you,

a prophet to the nations I appointed you

6 "Ah, Lord God!" I said,

"I do not know how to speak. I am too young!"

7 But the Lord answered me,

Do not say, "I am too young."

To whomever I send you, you shall go;

whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8 Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you—oracle of the Lord.

Ps 4:9

[e]In peace I will lie down and fall asleep,

for you alone, Lord, make me secure.


The Seven Desires of the Laaser's*

In the book Desires by Mark and Debbie Laaser, they list seven desires and deep yearnings found within the human heart. Their counseling work is based on the teachings of Virginia Satir; they found in her model that our behavioral, relational, and psychological problems were symptoms of something deeper – our unmet desires. Their seven desires are:

  1. to be heard and understood

  2. to be chosen

  3. to be safe

  4. to be included

  5. to be affirmed

  6. to be blessed

  7. to be touched

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