The True Path To Wholeness
One of the many things humans long for (even if we don't know how to articulate it) is to live in wholeness.
We long to live as whole people---the kind of people who know what it means to have peace within, to do work that we love, to live out of abundance rather than scarcity, and to be fully known by others.
You might think, "I can name at least ten people I know who don't seem to have that longing." It could be that these people on your list appear to be angry, dissatisfied, morose, destructive, and perhaps even toxic.
But I would argue that the fear of never realizing our longing for wholeness drives us to become the sort of people who seem to pursue anything other than wholeness.
And more often than not, that fear is grounded in the mistaken notion that wholeness somehow means perfection.
It is hard to accept the idea that our lives will never be perfect. In fact, it's so hard that most of us tend to look outside ourselves for someone or something to blame as to why it isn't so.
We might blame the people in our lives for keeping us from that perfect life we believe we ought to have to be whole. Or we might find a scapegoat in our culture to shoulder the responsibility.
Sometimes, we are manipulated by outside sources to reinforce our notions of where blame needs to be placed.
Political parties are adept at this, and there are always willing servants like social media, cable news, and the like to help them perpetuate our fears and exacerbate them.
So are religious leaders and religious institutions, for that matter. I see it happen all of the time. Anxious leaders within the church, who fear they and the institutions they serve will never be whole, seem to be spreading outrage and scapegoating rather than the Gospel.
We all engage in this to some extent. But we have no reason to let our fears overwhelm us when fulfilling our longing for wholeness.
Author and theologian Parker J. Palmer has written about this very thing and had a lot to say about how wholeness does not mean perfection and what that means for us.
Palmer asserts that even when the storms of life have left us feeling hollow and devastated, we can still find wholeness if we let go of our need for perfection.
Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness—mine, yours, ours—need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.
I like to imagine what this kind of truth might offer when it comes to healing the deep divisions between ourselves and those with whom we disagree.
Imagine more and more people letting go of the fear of never having a perfect life and simply living every day with the overarching belief that God doesn't desire perfection; God desires surrender.
Imagine what it would look like if we allowed the hard things in life to become both our teacher and guide toward the wholeness we seek.
Imagine if we stopped looking to place blame on others for our lack of perfection and simply sought to embrace the wholeness that comes when we accept our brokenness as part of our journey and believe God can and will restore us to new life.
This might seem like "a utopian dream," but it's well within our grasp.
And it starts with you and me. It starts with us. We have the light of life within us. We have been shown the path to wholeness by Jesus himself, who taught his followers to "Seek first the shalom or peace of God" and let everything else fall into place.
May it be so for us all. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us now and forever. Amen.