Home  |   Coaching  |   Random Thoughts  |   About Me 

To My Family & Friends
(and anyone else that stumbles along ...)


Lately, I’ve been consumed by a bit of a tough battle with depression. In an effort to crawl out of my little dark corner, I found myself writing to my family and friends. Once finished, I was not overly impressed with my results. At first I felt inspired, but by the time I finished, I felt like I had just wandered aimlessly through the forest. I always have varying degrees of doubt after I write, but this seemed like many other attempts that eventually found their way to the recycle bin. Then I came across the following from a book called The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:

Am I a harp that the hand of the mighty may touch me,
or a flute that his breath may pass through me?
A seeker of silences am I, and what treasure have I found
in silences that I may dispense with confidence?
If this is my day of harvest, in what fields have I sowed
the seed, and in what unremembered seasons?
If this indeed be the hour that I lift up my lantern,
it is not my flame that shall burn therein.
Empty and dark shall I raise my lantern,
And the guardian of the night shall fill it with oil and he
Shall light it also.

Now, of course I can write nothing like the elegance found in the works of Gibran, but might there be a small piece of the Spirit that I can share? If not truly somehow inspired, know that these words are from my heart and within them I hope you find a sleeping love. In continuous fear, I have suppressed much of this love because I’ve felt too unreliable to effectively carry it forward. But, I think that holding it in has possibly been gradually dragging me to my knees. Finally, left with no more real excuses or viable alternatives, I extremely reluctantly decided to share it.

So, here goes nothing ...

In a way, I have been writing the following thoughts in my head for a good many years. Although I have truly been blessed with an abundance of love, I have spent most of my life experiencing some combination of worry, anxiety, and disappointment with myself … yes, in a way the curse of Catholicism ;-) As I continue searching for Truth – some real meaning and purpose in my life – all I can confidently say is that I honestly know very little. I have written many words on faith, spoke of God’s Spirit in my heart, entertained a wide spectrum of personal perspectives on Christianity (including completely doubting its validity at all), while desperately struggling to accept the enormous array of competing and often conflicting spiritual views in the world. I have indeed had periods of balance in my life, ALWAYS the result of some spiritual awareness of some sort. In fact, one thing that I can confidently say is that I have NEVER found a sense of Peace without some type of surrender to God – however I may have actually perceived Him at a given moment in time.

A few of you, through some specific, recent events, have seen me desperately struggling … maybe even more than you may have thought you would ever see from me. Others have simply experienced a quiet withdrawal over time, as I have slowly yet consistently become less present (if not completely absent) in your life. I have always wanted to have a positive impact on the lives of others, but struggles inside my head have caused me to lose confidence in myself. Terrified of my inability to contain a growing pessimism, I’ve come to know myself as unreliable. This sense of doubt and uncertainty has caused me to question my value as a husband, father, friend, son, brother, mentor. My instability has become more and more difficult to hide. This has, in turn, fostered my greatest fear … a real sense that I may actually have a growingly NEGATIVE impact on the lives of others.

So why am I writing this to my family and friends? There’s actually two fundamental reasons: Forgiveness and Help. The first, Forgiveness, many of you may see as unnecessary. But, too many of you have said over the years that I’m too hard on myself … that I’m a good guy with good intentions. Please understand that here you are slightly mistaken. See, I’m a dreamer. I have visions of a better world with people looking for the Spirit within one another, accepting our personal flaws, and simply helping each other; which fosters a continued growth of relationship. But my dream is always for some tomorrow … a day off in the future that can only come after I somehow fix myself … after I somehow become reliable.

I have failed you. I have not been what I have dreamed of being, and yes, this is OK … but it is only OK if rather than ignoring it, you instead recognize it, and simply forgive me. Forgiveness cleans my slate, while still leaving open the possibility of improvement. Otherwise, we’re saying to each other, “you’re good enough”. Of course, in one sense, this is true. We ARE good enough. We can, and should, be content knowing that we are children of God. But, there is so much untapped potential. I don’t think God wants us to stand still, but to keep moving forward. We can be better! We can be more fulfilled. We can experience each other more deeply and maybe even come to know the Spirit within one another. See, I don’t want you to be mad or frustrated or discouraged because I’ve failed you. I just want you to forgive me. Whether it’s real or imagined (or most likely some combination of the two), my sense of guilt tends to make me stay detached. It leaves me with this sense that I somehow have to do something grand so you folks can all trust me to stay engaged in the future. It leaves me in this state of isolation, where I’d rather do no harm than fail at helping. By forgiving me, you help destroy this foolish sense of embarrassment that sends me off to a dark corner.

I’m most certain that I’ll continue to fall short of my dreams. But, I never want to stop striving. This is where my second inspiration for writing comes into play: Help. See, I need the courage to ask for your help in promoting a greater awareness and continued growth of Spirit in our relationships. I have struggled relentlessly as an island to be a better person, with a continually growing sense of failure. My obsessive narcissism has inhibited my undying desire towards greater humility and service. So, in an effort to stop worrying so much about myself, I’m trying to genuinely reach out to others. I am indeed terrified of failure, but I’m even more frustrated with my continued submission to fear … fear that leaves me paralyzed and ineffective.

As I just sat back and read what I have written so far, I began to question my sanity. I started wondering how many (if not all) of you would think I was rambling and not making much sense. Knowing this is exactly where fear usually consumes me, I’m going to press on despite my reservations …

So, where does this leave us? I asked for help. All I’m hopping is that we relax and take care of each other. Yea, that’s it … I sound just like a Miss America contestant … my dream is “world peace”, right ;-) Actually, “I have a dream” that is more simple than this. The catch is that it has to do with prayer … something that I have struggled to grasp for my entire life. Uh God, divine creator of the order of the universe, maintainer of the balance throughout all time and space, I’d like You to consider adjusting Your plan to meet one of my specific needs. Well, despite my personal difficulty mentally reconciling the concept of prayer, I do genuinely believe that “There is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect.” (Gilbert K. Chesterton). With this in mind - well, I guess actually not in mind ;-) - I’ve also come to believe that our most fundamental purpose is to take care of each other, to serve. A song from Jethro Tull states that “It’s only the giving that makes you what you are” and a more recent song from a personal hero of mine, K’Naan, says that “…every time I felt the hurtin' I felt the givin' gettin' me up off the wall.” OK, it looks like my ADD has successfully taken me down a rabbit hole. Let’s see if I can get back on track …

Prayer. The other day Julie forwarded a simple prayer from Mother Theresa that amazingly captures my thoughts. I say this prayer for each of you:

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be .
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
Dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

My good buddy, Greg and I made a promise that every day we would try to say this prayer for each other. In fact, this is my favorite part of the prayer; its focus is on someone else. Now, I absolutely hate junk mail and I’m not much of an advocate for chain letters … you know, send this to 10 people and on the third Tuesday of next month you’ll experience some miracle. But I would like to plant a small seed in your heart. Take a moment to think of someone in your life and consider offering this prayer for them. That’s all … and maybe this will start getting the ball rolling for us to focus a little bit more on helping each other.

All this said, I hope you accept my apology for becoming so distant. Know that this message is my line in the sand to begin to try to follow my heart a bit more. I can’t promise anything other than saying I plan to make an assertive effort to better share the simple moments in life and ask that you’ all try to do the same.

And this brings me to the end (I know, thank God!). I want to leave you with two thoughts on circumstance:

We cannot choose our external circumstances,
but we can always choose how to respond to them.
- Epictetus
The answer to circumstances is choosing a positive response,
and the most positive choice is to be of service.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

It’s been quite some time since I’ve actually been able to write anything at all. I hope this has some small, positive impact on your life. Thanks for loving me …


... return to Random Thoughts

  John Liptak |                 919-413-8186 |               107 Crickentree Dr, Cary, NC 27518 |                           home@johnliptak.net