It was a hot day for April, but it wasn’t the weather that was killing me. I was laying on the infield beside the track after running a brutal workout—laying because my legs wouldn’t hold me up anymore. I was too destroyed to care how beet-red in the face I looked. This high school girl had given it all at track practice. My panting mouth was utterly dry. My tongue was swollen and thick. From the ground where I lay, I estimated how far it was to the locker room where I could get a drink from the water fountain. Weakly, I wondered if I could crawl that far for water. I had never thirsted like this.
As my breathing eased, I rolled over to my side and noticed some black, rolled-up mats associated with football practice. There, just two feet away, a small puddle of rainwater had collected. I ached with thirst. It would be okay, I thought, surely. Just a few drops is all I need. I dipped my hand into the puddle and wet my parched lips. Dipping into the puddle a second time, I spread the water on my swollen tongue, closing my eyes in silent gratification. “Hey, kiddo, you alright?” asked my coach walking by.
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where no water is. (Psalm 63:1)
This experience of thirst—from the days before toting water bottles became trendily ubiquitous—translates into a powerful metaphor. How often do I look for “living water” in a “puddle”? Do I have weary, shaking legs that make it seem impossible to reach anything better than a puddle? Are we too weary—or too ashamed of our weariness—to crawl toward the living water? Do I even realize that I’m looking for living water in a puddle? How many of the people I love are poisoning themselves by a kind of hypernatremia—so thirsty but drinking salt water—because everyone else on this shipwreck is doing it?
Thirst and Desire
So often my problem is not a matter of knowing better. The problem is that I desire so little. This woman—Charity—known for her vigorous ideas, demanding relationships, and passionate language lacks zeal? The same woman who is plagued by the idea that she is “really too much”?! Yes, the same woman. My desire can be as weak as those workout-fatigued legs. How often do I ask the Lord to change me, to change my attitude, to change my habits. I know the good to which He is calling me. But the problem of conversion is a problem of desire—my willingness to be changed.
It is evident in even a small, foolish thing: I love books and reading and the comfort of reading after the children are in bed. I don’t want to be addicted to late night reading—and yet, at 11:37 p.m. I find that I don’t want to go to bed; at the crucial moment, I frankly prefer staying awake, living according to my private agenda. Again. And again. “Oh, it is harmless; it is so small,” you might argue. If it were small, if this habit were really ‘nothing,’ it should be easy to give up. And yet, I cling to it like a thirsty child to a water bottle after a hike. I cling to this habit like I am the deer and my book is the flowing stream (Psalm 42:2).
Conversion and Desire
The conversion I need is to desire what He desires to give me. Can I be as brave as this? The prayer of conversion is the begging to have a greater desire, a greater thirst. Jesus promises that He is the true satisfaction of our endless seeking, whether we are seeking partial goods (puddles) or Living Water (Him). He doesn’t ask us to be satisfied with “less.” He calls the passionate ones—those who refused to be satisfied with “less”—blessed: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6 [emphasis added]).
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:1-2)
He asks us to “Come!” as He opens His hands to us, promising us gratuitous satisfaction. Why don’t we respond? We are weary and weak. Some of us are weary because we’ve spent ourselves for the sake of the Lord. We are “poor in spirit,” out of breath, and waiting upon His saving presence. Some of us are weary because we are weakened from drinking saltwater. All of us are unable to reach Living Water on our own power, all of us fainting and too weary to crawl, unable to save ourselves. So the Living Water comes to us in our weaknesses, in our wastelands: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?...I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:19, 20b, 21).
It is Jesus who comes to us in the beginning and at the end, and all along the way, to draw us to Himself and to make us capable of Himself, the Infinite: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6). He makes me able to come to Him because He has first come to me. His initiative is always first; His initiative makes my response possible. We see this dynamic of His grace described in 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.”
Let us meditate on the astonishing mystery that it is God who seeks you, God who thirsts for you. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes this dynamic in its section on prayer: “‘If you knew the gift of God!’ The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.” When He says, “Come to the Water!” He makes me able. I pray that I experience His desire for me, springing up anew, arousing in me greater thirst and greater desire for Him. Satisfy me, Lord, with thirst for you.
 Catholic Church, “Prayer as God’s Gift,” Catechism of the Catholic Church (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995), 2560.
About the author:
Charity Hill lives in the Austin area with her husband and four children, but she really dwells with them at the intersections of theology, literature, and culture. She holds a MA from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, writes on children’s literature for Well-Read Mom, and coordinates a WWP parish program. Charity exercises “planned neglect” of the laundry to produce her children’s literature podcast Bright Wings: Children’s Books to Make the Heart Soar. If you’re looking for her, check the van or behind the microphone.
Are you tired of your list of good intentions that never translate to action? How many times have you made a resolution (and really meant it) only to fail within a few short weeks?
We’ve all been there. It isn’t that we aren’t aware of the ways we need to improve…but actually making the changes can be overwhelming. In her book, Girl Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis talks about this very issue. Sharing about how she has changed her own patterns and behaviors, she explains that she decided to establish a rule in her life that she would never break a promise to herself, no matter how small. And that changed everything. She writes:
If you choose today not to break another promise to yourself, you will force yourself to slow down. You cannot keep every commitment, promise, goal, and idea without intentionality. If you recognize that your words have power and that your commitments carry covenant weight, you won’t agree to anything so easily…You’ll slow down and think things through. You won’t just talk about a goal; you’ll plan for how you can meet it.
But which promises are the truly important ones to make and keep? We don’t have time to achieve every goal on our list. We have to say a lot of no’s to say the best yes.
What I’d like to propose to you is that our most important goals are the ones that impact eternity. There are loads of worthy resolutions and self-improvements that no doubt make life more enjoyable. But if we don’t make our primary focus our spiritual lives, then our success will be superficial and short-lived. I don’t know about you, but one day when I am standing before God giving an account of the choices I’ve made, I do not want to have a bunch of frivolous, self-centered accomplishments to be all I’ve got to show Him. God doesn’t care how much you weigh, how perfectly decorated and ordered your space is, and how far you got in your career. But He cares big time how you have loved—how you’ve loved the people He’s put in your life and how you’ve loved Him.
God also cares about how you love yourself. There’s a lot of talk about the importance of self-care, and I am all for it. But true self-care should be more than a bandaid; it should address how your soul is doing. Your heart matters to God. He doesn’t just want you to believe the right things or behave in a certain way. As a truly good Father, He wants your heart to flourish.
God never intended for us to navigate the spiritual life in isolation. His plan for us has always involved community. We need sisters around us who are encouraging us and challenging us to value the right things, and we need to be fed truth to counter all the lies we’re surrounded with.
So who is walking alongside you?
Who is challenging you to grow closer to Christ?
What is helping you know Him better right now, and what is helping you to understand His will for your life?
How is your heart?
Changes in these areas don’t just happen automatically. We have to make it a priority to cultivate these kinds of friendship, and then get our eyes off our phones and into God’s truth. It means we make a promise to ourselves to put the most important things, the eternal things, on our calendars, and then we follow through. We’ll plan for how we’re going to get to our goal. The perfect time for this is now.
If you don’t know where to start, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Opening Your Heart, our most popular Bible study. It meets you right where you are and offers game-changing, practical Biblical teaching. You’ll learn new ways to love yourself and others well. Commit to going through it with a girlfriend to increase the likelihood that your best intentions will turn into real change. Contact our WWP support team to find a parish near you that is offering the study and get to know even more women like you who are ready to kick-start real change in their lives.
I’m challenging you to move from good intentions to real change. Do you struggle to get your priorities in order? Do you have questions about your faith that haven’t been answered? Do you sense that there is something more to the Christian life than what you have been experiencing? Then come on over and dive in to Opening Your Heart. It’s tailor made for you—a safe place to come with your questions, confusion, hopes, and dreams. I promise you, you won’t be the same person by the time you finish the study, in all the best of ways.
Order your copy of Opening Your Heart today!
With you on the journey,
 Rachel Hollis, Girl Wash Your Face (Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2018), 17.
This post originally appeared on our blog on August 19, 2018.
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