Is Anyone Whole? Does Wholeness Exist?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

Mothers and infants in Malawi are dying or maimed in the course of childbirth, a result of days long, natural labors.

A twenty-one year-old on his way home from college somehow disappears.

Greedy power-mongers design ways to abuse the poor for personal gain. 

Have you seen enough of these horror stories on the news?  Some of us have seen or experienced trauma. There are such reactions as survivor’s guilt, repressed memories, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress, guilt, and nervous breakdowns.  Complex humans have various responses to suffering.

Can anyone be whole?

I used to think “whole” meant “pain-free.” It does not. Wholeness comes from being complete, being one within, and not shredded into little pieces by an inhumane world. 

This is not meant to be an easy summation of human triumph. Only God knows what each person has fought and defeated. Some stories are easy to figure out, and we want to make them into formulas for happiness. Others are hidden in the deep reserves of secrecy.

I could point to positive thinking, self-worship, being in a relationship, or throwing oneself into religion as the keys to conquering tough emotions. However, none of these will make us whole.


What I am learning is that wholeness is ultimately a result of, not an escape from suffering. Testing develops perseverance; perseverance refines us over time as we learn what is truly important and real. Then we become mature and complete, not lacking anything. Whole. Does this concept sound familiar? If you are a Bible reader, you may recognize James 1:2-8.

My faith is in Jesus Christ because he is a living person who loves me and is not expecting me to get my act together before he will keep his promises. Since I believe he was God on earth, and now is God in heaven, I “fear” him in the sense that I am humbled by him. When that faith is challenged, I can persevere or turn my head and betray what I know to be true.

Sticking it out, even in the face of social rejection and dispute makes me stronger in my reliance on Jesus. Do you see? Then I learn that no matter what happens to me, no matter if I end up in a fetal position, or catatonic, or depressed, he is with me and will not let me go.

That’s being whole – unconflicted, not double-minded. This is why St. Paul of the New Testament wrote, “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds.” I want to be whole,  one within, reliant on my God and strong in faith.


NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

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