Disclosure: I do have an affiliate relationship with Amazon.com, so that’s where my book links will probably be going.

I’m sitting in Starbucks, reflecting over the last 3 years or so. I’m remembering the summer of 2007. My wife Anna and I had been married almost 4 years. We were both very frustrated people at this point. Frustrated with each other, frustrated with life. Thinking how far we were from where we wanted to be. In debt because we were using undisciplined spending to numb the pain. Unsatisfied, in pain, but at least admitting we needed help.

And then a little bit of a break in the clouds came. Anna was asked to sing in a wedding for a friend of ours from church. In fact, most of the church was going to be there. The wedding was in Indianapolis, and the bride & groom were nice enough to pay for our room at a nice, higher end Marriott hotel, where the reception was also being held. The groom’s family was pretty connected. In fact, my pastor, David, got into a lengthy discussion with California’s former Governor Pete Wilson. I guess David recognized him because he was living in Palo Alto during part of Wilson’s tenure.

The morning after the wedding Anna and I were in a Borders cafe. This has been our regular hang out spot since some time in 2006 when Anna started hanging out at a Borders during her lunch breaks, when she was working in accounts payable. She eventually quit that job and started working in the cafe, after they became a Seattle’s Best Cafe.  In my opinion, their cold brewed iced coffee is one of the best things in the world. Especially with plenty of Half & Half, and a mix of sugar free Vanilla & Raspberry syrups. Thank you again to the manager at the Seattle’s Best in Honolulu who introduced me to that a couple years ago. More on that in my upcoming post, “Hawaii saved my life.”

Digressing again. Sorry.

Enter John Eldredge, in the book he is probably best known for at this point, “Wild At Heart“. By the way, this link points to the 10th anniversary revised edition, which isn’t out yet and which I haven’t read. I hope to read and review it soon. I had heard of this book before. A friend of mine and Anna’s had gotten alot out of it and highly recommended it. I was kind of desperate at that moment, when Anna suggested buying it and reading it on the drive home to St. Louis.

So we open. And I’m listening. And it’s hitting me like C.S. Lewis has hit me several times over the years. It wasn’t necessarily something I could put my finger on, but it called to me. In a deeper place. Not necessarily through my logical thoughts. It woke something up. Eldredge opens chapter 1 recounting a story of tracking a bull elk, and this is how he summarizes the purpose of the quest –

“I am looking for my heart.”

And that, I think is what hit me. I had spent some time since the previous summer trying to figure out why I was so depressed. I’d seen a doctor to look for hormonal causes, gotten more exercise, spent some time being informally counseled by one of the older guys at my church, basically trying to get to the bottom of things. Why couldn’t I get free of addictions? Why did I hate my life and my job? Why did I feel trapped in a mundane existence? Why was I so damn angry all the time? Why was I so mad at my pastor? At my dad? At my wife? At myself? Why didn’t I have any friends anymore – at least none I could just call and talk to? And in the middle of it, comes this. “I am looking for my heart.” That was it. My heart. That part of me that got shut down when I decided to give up my dreams of ministry and become a responsible, suburban guy. If you ever saw my house or my yard or the inside of my cars, you’d know how bad I was doing at that part. I still struggle with that, but Anna at least invites friends over at this point.

That’s what I was doing. Looking for my heart.

To clarify something, I’m not necessarily the outdoors type, at least I don’t think I am. I never liked camping that much. Mostly, I just don’t like the dirt and the bugs. And the heat and humidity. Maybe that just comes from growing up in Missouri. The summers around here are oppressive. No wonder so many people in St. Louis seem chronically grumpy. I did go on one family vacation to Colorado in 1991 or so and loved it though. Probably because I wasn’t hot and sweaty. I like my AC and my computer and my TV and the ability to go to a store to find something I want or need, though lately I’ve come to appreciate a level of peace and quiet that comes with getting away from things and “unplugging.” The point is, I’m not a mountain man.

I was looking for my heart – the heart that loved life and adventure and beauty. The heart that was beaten down, severely disappointed with life. I should note also that I was listening to financial podcast at the time that was constantly predicting the “perfect financial storm.” If you know who I’m talking about, good for you, but I choose not to name the guy outright. All his good intentions and even sometimes good investing information aside, all it was doing was filling me with endless fear about the end of life as I knew it – the end of the US dollar, societal collapse and tyranny in the form of a Hitler-type figure, ala-Weimar Germany. That’s another topic for another day, because I love my country and my liberty and really don’t like the path were on as a country, but I live more hopefully these days.

The point is, I’ve started to get my heart back. I have a purpose – a reason to be here – and something to offer. I’m now more purposeful in DOING instead of just THINKING. I’m still a thoughtful person, I just recognize now that what I do has meaning and many times helps me understand things in a way I couldn’t when I was just thinking about them. I’m also trying new things – considering a new career path, really talking to God in a way that I NEVER have. And I finally have the type of relationship with Anna where I feel like we work together and actually live as one (no small thanks to John & Stasi Eldredge for their latest work, “Love & War“).

I think life is an adventure to be lived with lots of room to explore and grow and serve.

Thank you John Eldredge. You saved my life.

Time to Start