What he is he has always been and always will be. He is whole.
As Christians we are called to be like Jesus, which by extension means we are called to be like God. A holy Christian life necessarily involves integrating ourselves as much as we can, with the help of God, into one whole indivisible person, in His image. That is why what we do with our body matters. That is why what we do with our mind matters. It all matters because it is all part of the whole.
We’re not going to dig into every facet of the human whole because that’s way too much ground to cover in the time before us. But we are going to dig into the idea of integrating our hearts.
Being whole hearted is something that doesn’t get talked about too often, but I think it is essential to a peaceful Christian life. When we feel those tensions and hard spots arise in our heart it is impossible for us to remain whole. The soft fleshy parts pull away from the stony parts and we are left in anguish, torn within ourselves and against ourselves. It can feel overwhelming and impossible to overcome.
But those hard spots we discover in our hearts are actually beautiful opportunities - invitations to open our hearts to God so that he can heal us and our hearts, allowing them to become the soft, supple hearts he desires for us through and through.
The idea of full hearted living was introduced to me by one of my perpetual favorite authors, Brené Brown, who I probably reference way too much. In her book Daring Greatly she explores the idea of living a wholehearted life which starts from a place of worthiness - believing that you are worthy to embrace your own life. I think that there is a secular way to approach this concept of worthiness and a Christian way and the latter is what I’m looking to flesh out in these reflections together. (And if the whole question of embracing “Worthiness” resonates with you just wait until you see what’s coming this summer!!)
I love the image of living with your whole heart – bringing all of yourself to your life every day. When you think about the example of holy people that you may know, or even holy people throughout history, it’s clear that that’s how they live. They showed up with all of themselves in everything that they did, holding nothing back from those around them, but ultimately not holding themselves back from God. And in turn God uses these people to work wonders in the world.
Think about the example of Mother Teresa. She clearly lived with her whole heart – caring for people who have no one else to care for them in their dying days and hours with a love and patience that seemed endless. She came to her ministry every day with everything that God gave her - her whole heart open to the people God sent her.
And that’s what we should seek to do as well.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably keeping parts of yourself back, not out of any willful withholding, but simply out of fear. When we think of ourselves as alone - solitary entities in the world - I think it would be a little impossible not to be afraid of showing ourselves in our entirety.
And that is why I think God is such a key element in true wholehearted living.
How can we have confidence in ourselves simply for our own sake with no outside input without falling deeply into pride and self-centeredness? I don’t believe that we really can.
But, we know that it is important for Christians to act with confidence, so what is left for us to do? I believe it is left to us to turn wholeheartedly to God and to believe with trust what he says about us – that we are worthy of his love and that everything he has given us is for a purpose.
When we embrace our gifts and talents with confidence from the jumping off point of knowing God‘s love for us we are able to find the confidence we seek and live with our whole hearts.
This month we’re going to be talking more about obstacles to that (like grudges and unforgiveness), how we can care for our hearts and stop keeping bits and pieces of ourselves separate from all the rest and embrace that kind of unity that we see in the person of God.