1. Repress them. But this means they come back stronger or seep out in unhealthy ways. So, at university when I tried to give up caffeine, I ended by cracking in the middle of the night and eating coffee with a spoon. Or maybe I decide to economise. I buy Poundland toilet roll but end up splurging on a lime green jumpsuit in the sales.
2. Express them. Give in completely. You want a hot dog? Have twelve. A cigarette? Smoke forty. That’ll make you feel much better. Well, temporarily, anyway. And actually it sets the scene nicely for all number of addictions – it’s just that now you need more of whatever you want to make life work.
3. Eliminate them. Ha! This doesn’t even work on paper. You can’t just kill desires. They’ll creep in the back door by another route. For a little while, I really thought that anorexia was killing my needs. But in fact it was just swapping them for another – the need to be thin, to have control.
There are many systems of thought and belief that are built on the goal of wiping out our desires. Buddhism for example, or stoicism. But we’re not blank pages. We’re created to worship – and if our desires aren’t directed to a worthy end, then they will rule us or tear us apart. Christ alone is worthy of glory – He alone takes and transforms and fulfils our desires. He not only meets them – He exceeds them. Christ will never say to you – ‘you’re too much’ or ‘rein it in’. He wants more of us, not less. He’s created us with hungers that we don’t need to repress, express or try to eliminate. That He alone can satisfy.