Daily Riches: The Restless Self Loves Its Illusions (Henri Nouwen)

“While teaching, lecturing, and writing about the importance of solitude, inner freedom, and peace of mind, I kept stumbling over my own compulsions and illusions. What was driving me from one book to another, one place to another, one project to another? …What was turning my vocation to be a witness to God’s love into a tiring job? These questions kept intruding themselves into my few unfilled moments and challenging me to face my restless self. Maybe I spoke more about God than with him. Maybe my writing about prayer kept me from a prayerful life. Maybe I was more concerned about the praise of men and women than the love of God. Maybe I was slowly becoming a prisoner of people’s expectations instead of a man liberated by divine promises. …I had succeeded in surrounding myself with so many classes to prepare, lectures to give, articles to finish, people to meet, phone calls to make, and letters to answer, that I had come quite close to believing that I was indispensable. …While complaining about too many demands, I felt uneasy when none were made. While speaking about the burden of letter writing, an empty mailbox made me sad. While fretting about tiring lecture tours, I felt disappointed when there were no invitations. While speaking nostalgically about an empty desk, I feared the day on which that would come true. In short: while desiring to be alone, I was frightened of being left alone. The more I became aware of these paradoxes, the more I started to see how much I had indeed fallen in love with my own compulsions and illusions, and how much I needed to step back and wonder, ‘Is there a quiet stream underneath the fluctuating affirmations and rejections of my little world?’” Henri Nouwen

“[Jesus] appointed twelve
that they might be with him….”
Mark 3:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has being a Christian or a minister become a “tiring job” for you?
  • Is your doing for God anchored in your being with God?
  • What were some of Nouwen’s illusions? his motivations? What are some of yours?
  • Is there a still point that anchors your life? What is that?

Abba, may I be a person liberated by divine promises, then useful to you and others.

For More:  The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”


3 thoughts on “Daily Riches: The Restless Self Loves Its Illusions (Henri Nouwen)

  1. Just want to thank you for these daily reminders and meditations. Brief, but wonderfully powerful – enough to help me refocus on God at the center of all of life when I read them. Thanks for the time and work you put into this helpful ministry.


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