I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Some Desires come and go. We try them out but they do not hold our interest for long. They pitter out over time.

Listen: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” ~U2 (Pretty sad song)

This could mean that we haven’t found our Inherent Desire yet. Through the course of our life thus far, we have not yet encountered what it is that we’re looking for.

If we have identified it and have experienced at least a portion of the privileges we will eventually receive, it does not pitter out if we remain allegiant to our General Cause–God and continue in our progression towards it at a rate that satisfies us. When we think about losing it or never obtaining it we feel the greatest sorrow we have ever felt.

Listen: “Nothing Compares 2U”

But if nothing holds our interest for long over an extended period of time, we have a conflict: No Desire. We talked about having No Desire in my blog post: IDK Inertia but let’s review it here. First of all, having No Desire is a black and white statement.

To some degree, we might be interested in obtaining goals. That degree may be large or small. But similar to the all-or-nothing threshold that an action potential needs to cross over in the body’s nervous system to stimulate muscle contraction if it is not enough to motivate us to make the required sacrifice, it is just as valuable as having No Desire.

“May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” ~Choices by President Thomas S. Monson

There are two reasons for having No Desire or very little of it:

  • Lack of knowledge and experience
  • Numbed Effect Sensors

The 1st Cause: Lack of Knowledge & Experience

The first cause of having No Desire is innocence. It’s childhood. In childhood, we may not have declared our total allegiance to a Cause yet.

Listen: “The Reason” by Hoobastank

We may not yet have the knowledge or skills to obtain what we want. And we may not yet get the connection between Process and Effect.

“For every action [Process], there is an equal and opposite reaction [Effect].” ~Newton’s Third Law

“For that which ye do send out [Process] shall return unto you again, and be restored [Effect];” ~Alma 41:15

“Most of you are familiar with Alice in Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You will remember that she comes to a crossroads with two paths before her, each stretching onward but in opposite directions. As she contemplates which way to turn, she is confronted by the Cheshire Cat, of whom Alice asks, ‘Which path shall I follow?’ “The cat answers, ‘That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.'” ~Choices by President Thomas S. Monson

A Note About Judging Others In the Wrong Way

If we judge others because they haven’t figured out what they want or the direction they need to go, we may be judging an innocent person that God does not judge like that yet. And note that we can judge ourselves like this too. Our duty is to give them and ourselves space and time to figure it all out.

“For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law;” ~Moroni 8:22

The objective reality of remaining in that innocent state for too long when we might otherwise be progressing is described well by President Hartman Rector, Jr., a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the late ’60s to the ’90s:

“Ignorance is expensive; in fact, it is the most expensive commodity we know anything about. Certainly we make many mistakes through ignorance. If it is a violation of a commandment of God which we have never received and thus do not know, then the Lord does not hold us guilty of the sin. ‘… to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.’ (James 4:17.) And in Paul’s words, ‘… where no law is, there is no transgression.’ (Rom. 4:15.) But even though we may not be guilty of the sin because of our ignorance, neither can we receive the blessing, which is predicated on obedience, without rendering obedience to that law.” ~”Ignorance Is Expensive” by President Hartman Rector, Jr.

Note: the blessings we desire are a critical part of our Inherent Desire. The law we need to identify, learn, and be obedient to is the Inherent Process we must engage in to obtain those blessings.

If we want to shake our finger at other people because we think they should know better, we should probably back off. It is not our responsibility to judge with the goal of guilting them into doing what’s right, even if we might know what that is.

Yet it is our responsibility to personally work with God to work out our own salvation–to identify our Inherent Desire and progress towards its obtainment at an efficient and satisfying rate.

Here’s an example: I went to BYU during the late ’80s and ’90s. I declared a major. It was up to me to make sure the classes I was taking progressed me towards the completion of that major and graduation. Back then there were no counselors assigned to us to keep us on track and make sure we weren’t becoming life-long students, taking all kinds of classes, ever learning something or another but never progressing towards a meaningful end.

I then attended BYU Idaho in the 2014-15 Fall and Winter semesters to obtain a second Bachelor’s Degree. I declared a major. They immediately assigned me to a counselor and required me to set up a tentative but well-thought-out schedule of the classes I needed to take for the next few years until I fulfilled the requirements for that major.

I thought that was an excellent idea to keep us all on track and focused on our overall goal. So in life, our overall goal is to graduate from it by obtaining salvation. The specific way we do that is through our Inherent Desire, Cause, Process, Effects, and Results. We may not be able to see the full picture yet. I think that’s okay. But I believe we need to be actively striving to see as far ahead as we can and making plans for how we’re going to accomplish each sub-goal (like a class at BYU Idaho) on our journey.

If we judge others according to our own personal Inherent Desire, we’d be wrong again. While we do have many Desires in common, there are many that we do not. The specific person I want to marry or the things I want to do to make the world a better place bring me Joy but may not necessarily bring you Joy.

We may even do the opposite and evaluate our Inherent Desire by the Inherent Desires of others. We may feel guilty or even crazy if our Desire Obtainment Process is not like theirs. We may wonder what is wrong with us. Why are we so different?

But it’s not a competition. And that’s not an accurate form of assessment. While there are some useful comparisons to make, this is not one of them if it’s going to make us feel guilty because our Inherent Desire is different from someone else’s. Each of us needs to identify our Inherent Desire and then find the Inherent Process to obtain it. Each of us should be mostly concerned with obtaining the level of Sustainable Joy with which we are satisfied. Joy is not sustainable when we are deriving it from evaluating that we have more or less than someone else.

“The cost of the Atonement was borne by the Lord without compulsion, for agency is a sovereign principle. According to the plan, agency must be honored. It was so from the beginning, from Eden.” ~”Who Is Jesus Christ” by Elder Boyd K. Packer, March 2008 Ensign

The 2nd Cause: Numbed Effect Sensors

I’ve talked about Effect Sensors before. To review, our Effect Sensors are our eyes, ears, and any other sensory receptor that receives Effects. It’s easy to physically see or hear our parents, teachers, coaches, trainers, mentors, or supervisors tell us point-blank that we’re doing good or that we need to change up our Process. But how many of us trust any Cause but God in helping us identify our Inherent Desire–our Destiny? In order to sense God’s feedback, we need to keep our Effect Sensors sensitive. We need to be able to spiritually sense his feedback to identify our Inherent Desire.

Pseudo Desires deliver Pseudo Effects that overstimulate our Effect Sensors. When we continuously saturate them they become numbed–numbed to pain and Sorrow but also numbed to pleasure and Joy. For example, if we listen to extremely loud music over time our ears become less sensitive to sound. We become deaf. So if we’re consuming Pseudo Effects all the time, we’re going to develop some pretty bad habits that numb us to our Inherent Desire. We won’t be able to sense it.

Listen: “Big Yellow Taxi” by Amy Grant

“The Church and the world and women are crying for men, men who are developing their capacity and talents, who are willing to work and make sacrifices, who will help others achieve happiness and salvation. They are crying, ‘Rise up, O men of God!’ God help us to do it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” ~”Brethren We Have Work to Do” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Distractions Numb our Effect Sensors

We can numb ourselves to God’s communication by constantly filling our lives with distractions like social events, TV, video and other games, social media, and even work, etc. A distraction can be anything that ties up our minds and leaves us with little desire, time, and ability to communicate with God. It’s not necessarily evil or bad. In fact, it may be a pretty good thing to do. But the bottom line is in order to stay in tune with our Father in Heaven we need to make regular quiet spaces in our lives inside which we’re alone with him.

Listen: “Me and God” by Josh Turner

Purposefully Plugging Our Ears

We can also numb our Effect Sensors by purposefully plugging our ears. We can shut our eyes. We can ignore things. We can refuse to search for anything further than what we have already obtained.

“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?” ~2 Nephi 29:6-7

We can read what’s on the pages of our scriptures or the history books and see it as only applying in that specific situation in history but close our minds to seeing it as a general principle that can apply to us in our specific Desire Obtainment Process. Likewise, we can understand a principle from one perspective but close our eyes to looking at it from other perspectives.

It Is Wise to Create Boundaries

It isn’t all bad to close our minds. When we have done enough reviewing, applying, and testing out and then have identified truth, it’s probably a pretty good idea to hold steadfast against Conflicting Desires, Causes, Processes, and Effects. That means we can use our agency to purposefully and selectively create boundaries in our Effect Sensors against things we know are distractions and not valuable to us in our Desire Obtainment Journey.

“Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.” ~Mosiah 5:15

In Conclusion

If we have No Inherent Desire it may be because we need to give ourselves more time and space to evaluate, study, experiment, listen, pray, and evaluate some more. Or it may be because we’ve used our agency to block it out.

“And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men. For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned. But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.”~Mosiah 3:10-12

Each of us needs to determine which of these situations is true for us. If we’re older and no longer little children, we might want to take Jesus’ counsel when he said,

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” ~Luke 6:41-42

Tim Tebow echoed this concept when he said, “Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Our focus and energy need to be on the things we CAN control. Attitude, effort, focus – these are the things we can control…”

When there is some kind of conflict needing to be resolved the most important thing we can do is to focus on what we have control over. Our part in the puzzle. Our position on the field. Our turn in the game. When we work to cast the beam out of our own eyes, we take responsibility for what is within our control. When we take responsibility for what is within our control we work on eliminating all of the distractions in our lives, all of the Pseudo Desires and their numbing Effects. We examine ourselves frankly to see if we have them and then acknowledge them when we do. We work diligently to eliminate them, even though it hurts.

When we do that we can more accurately assess the situation in which we find ourselves and use our agency more wisely.

“If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other sinful pressures and priorities that prevent our eternal progress.” ~”Desire” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks