Today on the blog I have my friend Dr. Chuck DeGroat. Chuck is the Associate Professor of Pastoral Care at Western Theological Seminary. Chuck is a wise soul, someone who plumbs the depths of the intersection of the human soul and God’s love. His new book, Wholeheartedness, recently released, so be sure to check it out!
When Nate’s book arrived in my mailbox last Fall, I was excited…but it wasn’t the first time I’d seen it. I had the privilege of getting to know Nate as he wrote it and reading an advance copy, and I knew it would hit a nerve. Man Enough greets many men who have strived to the point of exhaustion to embody a contrived ‘Christian’ masculine vision that, I believe, actually preys on men’s shame rather than relieving them of it. I’ve talked to many men who have found in Man Enough both rest in their exhaustion and a vision for Jesus-like living.
I’m hoping that my newest book Wholeheartedness: Busyness, Exhaustion and the Divided Life will do something very similar. My last book offered a vision for loving the “toughest people” in our lives, but I ended the book with a chapter on wholeheartedness. My biggest surprise with the reception of that book was how many people wanted to hear more about it. The takeaway – people want a vision of the good life, the life of flourishing for which we’ve been made.
I define wholeheartedness as our experience of oneness and worthiness in Christ. Oneness – that experience of living from our core, our center, our truest and deepest self. Too often, we’re pulled in different directions, split into different allegiances, enslaved to the different masks we wear. We long for union, for oneness.
And we also long for worthiness – that experience of being deeply loved, adored, and connected. We’re often caught between the extremes of shame (our sense of unworthiness) and self-esteem (our exhausting attempt to make ourselves worthy). But we long to be known, to be smiled upon, to be seen as worthy.
Now, I believe that wholeheartedness is at the very center of the Christian story, though it doesn’t often seem like it amidst our dividedness. But here’s what I’ve also found. Psychologists and neurobiologists, poets and philosophers have discovered, as well, that wholeheartedness is what we’re made for. Can you imagine it? There is a surprising unity underneath our conflicting conversations. And the good news is that there is a pathway to wholeheartedness.
Maybe you’re like me. At times you’ve felt pulled in a thousand different directions. You alternate between perfectionism and self-sabotage. You’re overwhelmed, exhausted…and it feels like you’re surviving and not really thriving. If so, make sure you finish reading Man Enough and then pick up Wholeheartedness. What I’ve found – and I think Nate would agree – is that people are looking for a more compelling vision for a life of flourishing, and a pathway to it. We’re not made to settle, to resign. We’re designed for dignity and beauty. And so, jump in along with many others who are tired of trying to be enough on their own, and who long for something more.