The Greatest Gift to Give Realizing Our Deepest Human Desire as the Beloved

with No Comments

Have you ever left a job or a relationship, or put down a project that looked fine from the outside but you just couldn’t do it anymore? And maybe when you finally walked away you couldn’t quite put your finger on why, you just knew it was killing you in some way?

The saying goes that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses, but in a recent Harvard Business Review article titled, “Why People Really Quit Their Jobs,” Facebook told a different story:

“Of course, people are more likely to jump ship when they have a horrible boss. But we’ve spent years working to select and develop great managers at Facebook, and most of our respondents said they were happy with theirs. The decision to exit was because of the work. They left when their job wasn’t enjoyable, their strengths weren’t being used, and they weren’t growing in their careers.”

All three of these things can be tied back to the manager, so it’s still possible to say that people quit bosses, not jobs, but I think that’s circumstantial. I think jobs, like marriages and ministries, can be full of challenge, frustration, conflicting personalities, and even out right abuse, but what really drives people away is stagnation.

We call it quits when we feel like we are no longer growing, that we have nothing to contribute, or that what we are contributing is not being appreciated.

In Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen writes:

“We human beings can suffer immense deprivations with great steadfastness, but when we sense that we no longer have anything to offer anyone, we quickly lose our grip on life.”

Being given in service to one another is about more than just being useful or appreciated, it’s literally “our grip on life.” It’s our contribution, not our happiness, that gives us meaning. As Leo Rosten wrote for “This Week Magazine” in 1963:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. The purpose of life is to matter, to be productive, to have it make some difference that you lived at all. Happiness, in the ancient, noble sense, means self-fulfillment — and is given to those who use to the fullest whatever talents God or luck or fate bestowed upon them.

“Happiness, to me, lies in stretching, to the farthest boundaries of which we are capable, the resources of the mind and heart.”

Henri Nouwen echoes Rosten when he writes that it’s in giving ourselves to each other that our humanity comes into its fullest bloom. Nouwen goes on to say:

“I think that our deepest human desire is to give ourselves to each other as a source of physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.”



Where can I contribute the most? Where I have the most compassion. And where does my compassion come from? From my brokenness. 

Like alabaster boxes broken open, like bread broken and shared, like bleeding poets, it is from the depths of our sorrow that our compassion wells up and flows forth. It is from our own wounds that we can offer the most healing. As Henri writes:

“True joy, happiness, and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others. A happy life is a life for others. That truth, however, is usually discovered when we are confronted with our brokenness.”

“Our brokenness open[s] us to a deeper way of sharing our lives and offering each other hope.”

When we give ourselves to each other in our brokenness, we go beyond the use of our talents and begin to do life together. We go beyond our meetings and programs and outreach, and we get into each other’s kitchens and living rooms and lives. When we meet each other in the compassion of our pain, we roll up our sleeves and get involved in the mess of each others’ lives because we understand the pain and loneliness of being broken.

This is where recovery and restoration happen. This is where brokenness multiplies blessing, here in this “true community of love,” as Henri would say.

Living this close to each other, we soon learn that our unique gifts and talents can only go so far. What really nourishes the soul of another human being is the gift of our very self. It’s not so much about what we can do for each other, but who we can be for each other. Like Henri did, we learn that,

“…the greatest gift I have to offer is my own joy of living, my own inner peace, my own silence and solitude, my own sense of well being.”

Brokenness is about so much more than being wounded. It’s about being reborn, and it’s sharing this new life with each other that brings healing. Like the AA volunteers who come “back” into prison to share their message of hope with men in need, and in so doing they continue to save themselves. They offer the greatest gift of all, the hope of serenity in the midst of the struggle. That’s what being broken and given does.

I love how the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book describes the awakening into this “true community of love”:

“Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of [our Higher Power’s] presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.” (pg 68)

And living into this community:

“Among them you will make lifelong friends. You will be bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey. Then you will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life. You will learn the full meaning of ‘Love thy neighbor.’” (pg 152)



This is the kind of community that I hope to build around Jedidiah’s Journey. I hope that as I speak out of my own brokenness and share my journey of healing, that you might be blessed along the way. 

Does this blog contribute positively to your growth? If so, it would be a great encouragement to hear how. If you’re comfortable with it, I invite you share in the comments or message me below. If you’d like to be part of the community and share this journey with other like-minded pilgrims, you can find us on Facebook at On Journey Together.

Thank you for being here. Buen Camino, my friends.

To the end, to the truth.

%d bloggers like this: