Falling into Wholeness
FEBRUARY 16, 2016
My grandpa was a World War II vet. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. When he returned home from hell, he raised six kids in a trailer home, working in a factory by day and a bakery by night.
My dad grew up in that trailer, served in the Navy, and went to college on the G.I. Bill to become a computer engineer. Just before graduating, he decided to switch up and become an orthopedic surgeon. Then he went to medical school, joined the Army to get his remaining training, and retired from the military to set up a private practice. He raised five kids of his own.
One day before I moved out of my parents’ house, my grandparents were visiting. By then my grandpa was retired and struggling with various health issues. When I walked in, he was leaning against my dad’s bar watching TV and I asked, “How’s it going?”
Gruff (and almost smirking), my grandpa said, “It’s going. It’s gotta go. If it don’t go, you ain’t got one.”
I could write a whole book filled with stories about my grandpa and my dad. I’d title it, Just Be Guz: The Doggedness of John and Jerry Guzman. When my grandpa had a stroke, he stood out in the front lawn waiting for the ambulance and smoking out of the good side of his face. My dad once reconstructed the shattered pelvis of a soldier who was crushed by a tank—a miracle born of hard-earned skill and determination in the face of overwhelming odds.
You get the picture.
“It’s going. It’s gotta go. If it don’t go, you ain’t got one.” That statement could be written over the doors of each member of my family’s homes, because it’s certainly written on our hearts. I inherited the script, and I’ve played my persistent part, but I have to admit, all that tenacity takes a toll.
Today I’m more frazzled, fragmented, fat, and frantic than ever. I got my degrees. I have two jobs, three kids, and a book on the way. I’ve gone above and beyond, been in and out of counseling, and on and off of medication. With Ozzy, I’ve listened to preachers, I’ve listened to fools, and I’ve drank way too much. I long for peace, and sometimes think the only way I’ll ever get it is to check out. But something powerful inside won’t let me quit. It drives me to keep going. It’s gotta go. If it don’t go, I ain’t got one.
Can you relate? Do all of life’s demands have you running fast and furious like an out-of-control freight train blowing past all the serene meadows, refreshing lakes, and majestic mountaintops with no time to stop and enjoy God’s good gifts? Maybe one of the things on your to-do list is a regular “quiet time,” but it just ends up filled with all the noise in your head instead of sweet communion with the Spirit.
If so, I have something that will help: Wholeheartedness: Busyness, Exhaustion, and Healing the Divided Self by Dr. Chuck DeGroat. Reading this book, I was invited, no wooed, to find rest in wholeness. In the introduction, Chuck writes:
“My own journey toward wholeness feels less like a goal I’m attaining and more like a continual falling and failing which, paradoxically, leads to surrender and self-compassion.”
I read that and thought, I don’t even have the time or energy for this book, but falling and failing? I can do that in my sleep. I was hooked. I had to find out if it was just that simple. I couldn’t afford to put this book down.
Chuck calls us to wholeheartedness by weaving together neuropsychology, poetry, and theology in a way only a therapist/writer/pastor/professor could. And he does it with a vulnerability and tenderness that comes from years of probing the darkness of his own driven and divided life. Wholeheartedness is a unique book written by the only person I’m aware of that could have pulled it off.
But the book contains more than insight and information about our frenzied lives. Wholeheartedness ends with healing practices designed to help us become aware of God’s presence within us so that, in union with him, we can offer compassion to the broken parts of our psyche that most would rather ignore. The last three chapters alone are worth the price of the book.
If your crazy-train life has you desperate enough to look inward with this book as your guide, I can tell you from personal experience that tasting peace really is as simple as failing and falling into wholeness… into a God who longs to be united in love with all he spoke into existence (especially those parts of ourselves that we hate and can’t control).
I can’t recommend Wholeheartedness highly enough. After devouring it and experimenting with the recommended practices, I’m convinced that if I gotta keep on going (and God help me I do), this book offers the only way forward. The train can keep rollin’, but it doesn’t have to keep running on fumes. And instead of hauling a heavy burden, it can be filled with peaceful fruit.
Get the book and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.