Denial is a part of desire. How much either takes over is key, and not always what we think is best.
In some ways it’s good to deny--to build, or rather rebuild, the self. But why we deny ourselves becomes a matter of discernment as well. Some deny to avoid. In the case of an addict that’s ok, but denial doesn’t work this way in every context. The example that comes to mind is denial of others, for any of a number of reasons, for fear of being led to sin. All are made by God. All have the potential to teach us. Even our temptations temper our souls. That crazy dance or battle between denial and desire--with a third party of will stepping in--can forge a soul.
These days I have slowly and awkwardly allowed my girls to teach me something about them, and about myself. I feel like I am becoming better because of this. I am denying myself the urge to force my will, to impose myself upon their growth (within reason, but really, it’s hard to parent! To allow what God gave your littles to simply flourish with some pruning, rather than all-out hacking takes incredible restraint). I also feel desire rising within: I want to write. To be alone even for just a little bit. To have a piece of chocolate cake without having to share with a five-year-old. Silly, perhaps--but what happens when the desires turn to others’ ways of thinking and seeing the world, or to the way they act or do things? My husband is type A in so many ways, a vestige of his time in the Army, and I can’t stand it sometimes--I am not a type A kind of person--but I have managed to learn some interesting things about my partner (and really connect to him) because of this unique if annoying feature of his personality.
And that’s a tame example, I know, because I “married it” (as Fr. Tom would say when I whined to him about the marriage pact). What happens when you’re not married to it? To those who espouse hatred or bigotry, or those who live lives somewhat opposite to your own? Or just alien to your own?
What you learn will depend on the level of patience you have, but the rewards and possibilities inherent to listening with the inner senses await claiming for those who choose a better path. An unusual path, weird under your feet, revealing little marvels.