A word that has been resounding with me lately is WHOLEHEARTED. Brene Brown brought it to light in her now famous TED talk and subsequent book, The Gifts of Imperfection. A secular researcher on shame and vulnerability, she made some startling conclusions. There was only one variable, she discovered, that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who struggled for it. And that was: that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. The name she used to describe these kinds of people who lived from a deep sense of worthiness was simply: Wholehearted.
Wholehearted. Although Brown never acknowledges where such a sense of worth comes from but if anyone should live in such a way, I suppose it should be Christ followers. After all, the appeal of scripture and the goal of the Christian life is really about loving God “with our whole hearts.” The transformation in our lives as Christians is nothing less than the transformation of our hearts.
What does it exactly mean or how does it look in our going-to-work lives? I immediately thought of Caleb, a character out of the Old Testament. The term “wholehearted” is the word used to describe Caleb six different times in the Old Testament. (Numbers 14: 24; 32: 11-12; Deuteronomy 1: 36; Joshua 14: 8, 9 and 14.) Wow. Six times. It is certainly the distinguishing quality of his life. The question then becomes, “How can we live in such a way that our lives can be marked with such distinction?”
His own words give us a clue. When the Israelites threatened to rebel against Moses when they heard the negative report from the 10 spies who had scouted out the Promised Land, Caleb stood before them and declared, “And do not be afraid of the people of the land. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Emphasis mine.) Caleb lived with a deep seated confidence (that did not falter) that God was with him; an ever-present reality. Built into the foundation of his life was a reliance on a God who was real, responsive and intimately involved in his life. I like to call is the with-God life.
This is the life made available to us through the presence of God’s Spirit who lives in us and transforms our hearts. This is the reality we share with Caleb as we face the troubles of our day. This is the confidence that grounds our lives and allows us to live from a place of abundance, well-being and worthiness.
Wholehearted. The with-God life. It relates to me of living from a place of consistently and deliberately choosing to love and live courageously (the root word for courage is “heart”), to choose vulnerably and authentically (in their truest sense) over self-protection and fear, to respond to ALL of life with gratitude (from which springs joy), to live with an awakened sense of who God is and his grand and incremental movements in our lives, to recognize and live into the greater story into which we have been invited, to receive and give without pretense, to be kind to ourselves and accept our worthiness to be loved, to embrace Jesus’ invitation to fullness of life instead of relying on our old standbys of pushing through, soldiering on and sucking it up….and SO much more.
It was this very real sense of God’s nearness and availability that shaped Caleb’s life and allowed him, in even the direct of circumstance, to declare, “Do not be afraid. God is with us.” To live wholeheartedly, we too need to discover and encounter this same Truth.