Always Striving, Never Satisfied

Dad at the Great Wall
Image by M e l o d y via Flickr

I read about 50 blogs.  Not all the time and definitely not every day.  Correction.  I was curious and the fact is that I track more than 220 blogs on  No wonder I feel overwhelmed by the glut of information out there for one to consume.

To be honest, my heart, mind and soul can only handle reading about five every day and sometimes not that many.

(I’d love to list them on my blog somehow if someone knows an easy way.  I have no clue.)

Today I read Introspections & Ideas of a Black Wasp.

It struck me, how sad it is when one spends their whole life striving, working, driven by the next “important” thing.  Having worked in a not-for-profit ministry for thirteen years and having grown up in Dan Harrison – the missionary leader’s home I know about striving!!!    I used to work like that.  I used to get such a rush from doing — it defined me.  It drove me.   I would wake in the morning frantic that I was somehow already behind and go to bed at night anxious over what I had forgotten or worse NOT gotten done.  I constantly thought people were judging me.  I thought my father was judging and on that account I’m still undecided.

Come to find out, it mostly was me judging me.  My dear husband is constantly having to tell me that it was indeed NOT him saying the things I heard him say.  Oh, he may have said the words, but what heard — not true.  It’s crazy.  I need a mental filter to constantly redirect to what was actually said.  I’ve come a long way on this, but I’m still open to healing.

My father was like that.

I suppose I learned it from him, though I don’t think this is one I can blame on him; unless you go a bit deeper and acknowledge where that drive originates — the ugly and ominous insecurity — fear of failure — lack of self-love.  Those are the things I received in abundance.

Black Wasp (I can’t find a name on his blog to credit him) wrote about Stanley Hauwerwas and Jean Vanier’s Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness the third book in a Resources for Reconciliation series put out by InterVarsity Press.

He said:

As I read Vanier’s story of leaving what he thought he knew, changing his life’s trajectory and engaging in community with the mentally “handicapped” I immediately engaged with my own selfishness.  Reading From Brokenness to Community pushed me into a deep examination of myself, of my brokenness and of the redemption that God provides within community – both in communion with Him and communion with others.

My father was a deeply broken person.  He was also a leader, a vision setter with many friends and followers, charismatic in personality, never meeting a stranger, purposeful, always going, going, going.  Going to the former USSR when it was still the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics with the idea of bring students over on lingua-cultural exchanges.  Entering Cuba  to discuss the same, when Americans weren’t allowed.  I believe he loved God.  I believe he lived to serve God and others.  I believe he served more than 40 years and did many good things.

And yet, he never had that.  He died very alone.  He died with family around him but essentially alone.  He never figured out that fundamental, essential, powerful thing: a deep examination of yourself.  He talked about his personal brokenness.  He even wrote a book ironically titled Strongest in the Broken Places and spoke about it at Urbana 96.  But he never truly experienced “the redemption that God provides within community – both in communion with Him and communion with others.”   He never did.   This makes me profoundly sad and …

I resolve to write about Dad
Image by M e l o d y via Flickr

Vanier tells rich stories about what love can do to individuals hurt by the pain of abuse; abuse, spiritual, social, and mental. L’Arche’s result is to address brokenness through the love that is found in true community. L’Arche’s uniqueness is that it highlights brokenness, not so that people wallow but so they can find redemption. It is the acknowledgement and gentle approach of community that pain and brokenness that allows society to find healing.

When we are willing to recess into our own brokenness, we are able to view the holy aspects of others. (emphasis mine)

We have come down off our spiritual or moral pedestals to dwell and broken people in need of healing and redemption via community and ultimately the Father.

Hauwerwas argues that peace is achieved by redemption and transformation.

Healing takes takes time.  My father never had time because he was constantly striving, going, getting on the next plane to do the next thing for God.  When he was diagnosed with brain tumors, the prognosis was bad.  At this point I don’t recall exactly the type or character but I know when I researched it at the time I immediately knew it was a death sentence.  It was just a matter of time.

He never received that.  He deeply believed “that he hadn’t finished all he could do!”  How could God possibly be calling him home when there was so much left to accomplish?  His heart was so deeply convicted by the lost and that was his life – his legacy.  His motives were good.  His passion were good.  He was so compelled.

But sadly, when at last our loving Father wanted to call him home he basically fought.  He fought hard.  Some would say that’s what you’re supposed to do when you get a diagnosis of cancer. I say, it depends.  It totally depending on type and nature and site of that cancer. And graciously accepting your own death, though not easy (just easy for me to say) would have allowed him to experience perhaps something of that beautiful community in the end.

We were not even allow to talk about his death.  We were not allowed to say he might die.  We were not allowed to say goodbye. Or face his anger.

“If the time has already been redeemed by Jesus, we learn to wait on the salvation of the Lord by taking time to listen to our weakest members”  Progress pushes us towards deafening speeds that force us to continue to move closer to an ideal, which seems to get further and further away.

Black Madonna of Częstochowa
Image via Wikipedia

As I read, I was overcome by grief, missing my father.  Joy, that I have moved to a place if not of health at least a place of  not having to constantly be rushing toward accomplishment.  I still hear those bad voices even when someone who loves me talks to me.  But when he tells me NOT SO!  I believe him.  And that my friends is freedom.

Now if I could just find community.

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7 thoughts on “Always Striving, Never Satisfied

  1. I happened upon your blog post today while looking for something else. I don’t know you, and didn’t know your dad, but I get it. I am a person with a lifetime (well, 45 years at this point) of striving. Thank you for the kind reflections you posted.


Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

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