Way back in the 1990’s, I learned about the great spiritual writer Henri Nouwen. His books and tapes were very popular, and his book Return of the Prodigal Son became a huge best seller.
As it is with most authors, over time we move on to other writers who seem to speak more clearly to us. We can also find ourselves bored with one person’s thoughts and turn to the latest and greatest. It seems like that is what happened with me and Henri. I loved his books once, and found great meaning in them. But now those books sit on my shelf collecting dust. Recently though, I’ve been working through some things, and Nouwen’s works have come back as rich sources of inspiration and wisdom.
I found this quote from Seeds of Hope: A Henri Nouwen Reader especially meaningful this morning. I hope it resonates with you.
In a world in which traditional patterns of human communications have broken down and in which family, profession, or village no longer offer the intimate bonds they did in the past, the basic human condition of aloneness has entered so deeply into our emotional awareness that we are constantly tempted to want more from our fellow human beings than they can give.
If we relate to our neighbors with the supposition that they are able to fulfill our deepest needs, we will find ourselves increasingly frustrated, because when we expect a friend or lover to be able to take away our deepest pain, we expect from him or her something that cannot be given by human beings.
No human being can understand us fully, no human being can give unconditional love, no human being can offer constant affection, no human being can enter into the core of our being and heal our deepest brokenness.
When we forget that and expect from others what they cannot give, we will be quickly disillusioned; for when we do not receive what we expect, we easily become resentful, bitter, revengeful, and even violent.
Only God can fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts. Only God can heal our brokenness. Only God can give us what we truly desire. When we stop demanding more and more from those who cannot fully give and instead turn to God, only then will the deepest longings of our heart be fulfilled.