Are you living a fulfilled life? Are you content where you are?
Those always seem like good questions to ponder, but I think they’re especially relevant in light of the recent news concerning Al and Tipper Gore’s marital separation. Please stay with me here. I don’t read the gossip columns nor do I spend time reading the tabloids. But I do try and make sense of the times in which we live and, as such, I’m always processing what I see and hear. In doing so, I find this story instructive.
For those just catching up, former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper have been married for 40 years—a long time by any standard of measure. Just over a year ago, their youngest daughter, Kristin, filed for divorce. And now it is reported that Karenna, their oldest daughter, is separated from her husband of 13 years.
What’s going on?
There are, of course, many reasons why couples separate and divorce. And while it’s clear from reading the Bible that God hates divorce, it’s also true that He provides limited grounds for it. To be sure, ours is a compassionate God; He forgives those who repent and request forgiveness. Christians can rest in the knowledge that He will never forsake those who believe.
I am not in a position to know all the reasons behind the collapse of these three relationships, nor would I be inclined to pass judgment even if I did. As it is, my heart aches for every person who suffers because of a bad relationship. My comments are not directed toward any of the Gores, but rather the broader matter raised by some comments by Frank DiGiacomo, who covered the story in the New York Daily News. DiGiacomo quoted a friend of Karenna’s as saying something interesting and relevant to every married person, or even those hoping to one day tie the knot.
She described the couple as “lovely people, but restless souls—Karenna especially.” The friend continued: “I think she’s always been looking for a place (in the sun) for herself. I think finding fulfillment in addition to raising a family is very difficult.”
Did you get that? She said, “I think finding fulfillment in addition to raising a family is very difficult.”
I would very much appreciate your perspective and reaction. Speaking personally, I find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to separate the two! What about you?
Shouldn’t raising a family be fulfilling enough? Isn’t it possible to be wholly satisfied living a God-honoring life where we tackle the task of introducing and teaching our children to the Lord? Can we not be content as responsible citizens, living quietly, collaboratively and productively within our respective communities? Do we need the spotlight and big awards to be truly happy and content?
This same friend elaborated: “There was always a next thing: an election, another child, a book, an Academy Award”—which her father won for his documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth. The friend added, “Once the music stopped, it was just them.”
Setting aside the fact that this friend is appearing to put the life of a precious child on par with an ultimately meaningless award (no offense to the Academy!) and a lifeless book, how does her reflection strike you?
To be fair, life is rarely a single act with a singular point of focus. Most of us are called upon to balance numerous priorities. In addition to our family, we may find some personal satisfaction on the job, at church, volunteering or even pursuing a personal passion like painting or running a marathon. These are all good things, assuming we 1) don’t let them become ultimate things, and 2) don’t let them become the means by which we judge our worth and find our purpose.
King David put it this way: “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15). Or how about this for direction on how to find true contentment: “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him” (Psalm 34:8).
As an aside, but related, I recently found out that my younger son didn’t even know my exact position here at Focus on the Family. Troy came home from school one day and said quizzically, “Dad, are you really the president of Focus?” I take comfort in the fact that my boys simply see me as their dad, not as a voice on the radio program or the leader of a non-profit organization.
Knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and fulfilling my role as husband and father, assures me of living the good life, a fulfilled life, and that, by far, is good enough for me.
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