“When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth.
And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers.
That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world.
Then we become what the world makes us.
We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us. And we are important because someone considers us indispensable. In short, we are worthwhile because we have successes.
To live a Christian life means to live in the world without being of it. It is in solitude that this inner freedom can grow . …
A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center, easily becomes destructive. When we cling to the results of our actions as our only way of self-identification, then we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance, than as friends with whom to share the gifts of life.
In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone.
It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts.
In solitude, we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It’s there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us, that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received.
In solitude, we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.”
~ Henri Nouwen, Show Me The Way