A Divided Heart

Within his heart, St. Francis of Assisi could feel the beating of contradictory impulses. He felt a call to prayer and a call to service. Contradiction is a part of life. I’m often pulled in two (or more) directions at the same time. It causes me to feel fragmented and disoriented. When the psalmist speaks of a divided heart, I know what he was talking about. When what I feel and what I do are in conflict, it leaves me paralyzed. Francis felt contrary forces tugging at him, causing him to endure periods of confusion and unrest. Some days I want to chuck everything, shut down my ministry and move to Assisi. Some days the urge to write is overwhelming, and I become frustrated that I don’t have the time to give it the focused time it needs. And the crazy urge to make films that will inspire people, though I am becoming weary of the begging for the funds needed to make a film and the complaints about the length of the films I make. I need to find equilibrium, a sense of unity within myself. Eventually Francis found a way to have the contradictory forces battling within him to join together, enabling the tensions to become life-giving.

Like Francis, I need to find balance in my life. I need to find time to work and time to pray. I need time alone and time with my wife; I also need time with my daughter, my three grandchildren and friends. I have yet to discover the true rhythm of my life, a life nurtured by the natural contradiction of growth and decline, of light and dark, of dying and rebirth. I need to find myself in those contradictions, for they are me, and they are able to reveal my hidden wholeness.

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3 Responses to “A Divided Heart”


  1. 1 aliceny June 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Does not this describe the cost of genuine discipleship in today’s world?

    Like all prophets, you have been chosen to deliver a message — a message that the ‘world’ does not want to hear. Perhaps the angst and the contradictions are part of the price that you are being asked to pay for responding to the Lord’s call. You have been especially chosen to use your intellect, your experience, and a vast array of technological tools to bring His message of love and hope to the suffering, forgotten ‘anawim’ of the world — and to pierce the consciences of those who want to ignore them.

    “Keep on truckin,” Mr. Straub. Your beautiful faith tells you that HE is sustaining you in all things.

  2. 2 aliceny June 13, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Mr. Straub,
    It has been 11 hours since I wrote that reply. I have thought about what I said and have re-read it several times. If I left the impression that you should forgo the love and companionship of anyone in your family or friends to concentrate solely on your discipleship, your mission from God, I did so in error. I do not think that we were meant to be alone. Our earthly journey can be difficult. And – we live in very dangerous times. Sharing the mutual human love of a spouse, children and grandchildren makes the journey so much easier to bear. I believe that these are gifts from God and should be enjoyed – without guilt!

    Loving relationships in one’s life help to soften and humanize us. They also

    help us to relate much easier to other people.

  3. 3 Joan Krebs June 15, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Gerry, as you know this comes from an “old one”. Balance is a lifelong tension. We(you & the rest of us) almost always find outselves on one side or the other – hardly ever with balance. Here I look to Dan Berriga’s poem, “Equilibrium” for wisdom. For instance, one line says “Equilibrium in all save love.” If I haven’t already cone so, I’ll e-mail you the whole thing including its source.


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