The Disappointment of Life – Part 3

The two previous blogs on “The Disappointment of Life” have been very well received. I was reminded of a popular blog I wrote back in May of 2014 that supports the premise of these last two blogs.

Tom Brady was interviewed on CBS’s 60 Minutes after winning his third Super Bowl a few years ago.  Besides his football success, he had all the other things that our world values:  fame, money, dates with supermodels…and then he married one of them. He said, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there is something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey, man, this is what it is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, ‘***, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean, this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.” The interviewer asked, “What’s the answer?”

“I wish I knew. I wish I knew,” said Brady.

I think that it is hard for us all to believe that there was no sense of deep satisfaction in Tom Brady’s life after achieving his lifetime dream. In fact he seemed to be quite bewildered over the emptiness he experienced after this grand achievement. I am sure he was wondering, “If this does not satisfy me, what will?”

It seems that, in our innermost being, each of us has a deep yearning that seeks to be satisfied. Unfortunately, most of us are clueless as to what satisfies this strong desire. There are all types of pleasure, possessions, and achievements that offer to give it to you. But those things never keep their promise.

Sigmund Freud recognized this desire within himself. In a paper that he published in 1899, he described it as, “a longing that haunted me all of my life.” He never was able to satisfy it.

C.S. Lewis believed that the things in this world were never meant to satisfy us. They can bring delight, but not satisfaction.

I think that King David nailed it when he said, “For he has satisfied the thirsty sand, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” (Psalm 107:9) In another passage he says, “As the deer pants for the waterbrook, so my soul thirsts for God.”

Psychiatrist Gerald May observed, “After twenty years of listening to the yearnings of people’s hearts, I am convinced that human beings have an inborn desire for God. Whether we are consciously religious or not, this desire is our deepest longing and most precious treasure.”

As a counselor on our staff has put it, “people are driven and ruled by unsatisfied desires, and they are desperately looking everywhere that they can in hopes of finding satisfaction.” He goes on to say the prophet Jeremiah was spot-on when he wrote:

For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns that can hold no water.

We forsake God, the fountain of living waters, and we construct a life strategy of making our own cisterns and filling them with water that will satisfy us. The problem is this: all of our cisterns leak. They cannot hold water. We are continually thirsty.

Lawrence Dutton is a member of the Emerson String Quartet, which is a wonderful classical music ensemble. He did all the right things – started playing early, went to Julliard, and had all the right accomplishments along the way. One year he and the quartet won two Grammy awards. It was a remarkable achievement, but Lawrence said that after the initial euphoria of the awards, he was deeply depressed for a time because he felt he’d done it all. How much higher could he jump?”

Do you see what happened? He was seeking satisfaction in his life through his music. He was building a broken cistern that could hold no water. It left him empty and depressed, just like Tom Brady.

But then Dutton became a committed Christian, and everything changed for him. Though he won four more Grammys, they were inconsequential; he had found and drunk from the fountain of living water and experienced true satisfaction. A Grammy award remains a great honor to Lawrence Dutton, but he no longer looks for it to satisfy him.

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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