My boss is a rabid Seinfeld fan. When I started working for him, I began watching reruns of the show just so I’d have something to talk with him about. Seinfeld, that show about nothing, is a treasure trove of catchphrases. One which my boss occasionally throws out at seemingly random moments is “Do you yearn?” uttered in that sarcastically earnest tone that all Seinfelders use.
I’m a great yearner, actually. I could give up amateur status right now and go pro with it, as a matter of fact. I yearn for a great many things. (At the moment, I’m yearning for a creative brain that works on an earlier time schedule or a job that works on a later one. Why do brainstorms always hit me so late at night?)
I yearn for a runner’s body, in my mirror and in my bed. The one in the mirror is getting closer by the day, the other one seems more distant by the day. I used to date a runner, thought I’d marry him, still remember how hot he looked after a good run. I’ve been yearning for him lately and assuring myself that he was truly perfect. As I pined for him over a croissant and a cup of tea at La Madeleine the other night, my good friend Lori reminded me that he dumped me and married someone else, thereby displaying an appalling lack of judgment, clearly not the mark of perfection. Good friends are essential in moments of useless yearning.
I’ve yearned for perfection from my father, too. But Dr. Kevin Leman set me straight on that one. He wrote a book called Making Sense of the Men in Your Life and there’s a great chapter in there on accepting our fathers for who they are and letting go of who we hope they’ll be. I cried my way through that chapter but knew the truth of it.
Yearning is part and parcel of being human. We know something isn’t right with the world, something is out of place, this is not perfection. God has planted in each of us a longing for the ideal, for Eden, for heaven, for Himself. Everywhere we look, we see so much that just doesn’t measure up. It can drive us to despair, or it can drive us to yearn. To look up at the sky on a late afternoon when the rays of the sun shoot brilliantly through puffy clouds and imagine the Son of Man suddenly standing there in His glory, come to take us home. To imagine the day when all the fairy tales come true, when evil is banished, the hero arrives, the beauty in everything is awakened, and we can all live happily ever after.
These are the yearnings that God has placed within us, the ones that cry out for Him. And every other yearning I have, however silly or vain, is really a mimicry of that yearning, a pale shadow of that longing for the perfection of eternity with God.
Do you yearn?