Letter from the Editor: How Fulfillment Happens

For all the self-help resources available, fulfillment is still a sly beast. We look for it in our work, our relationships, our status. But fulfillment eludes us at every turn. No one is quite sure how to capture it; Christians aren’t even sure if we should try.

Try as we might, the human heart longs after fulfillment whether we mean it to or not:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

The human heart longs after fulfillment whether we mean it to or not.

That was written in the 1600s by Blaise Pascal (Pensees, 75); it remains true today. Our hearts long for the fulfillment that only God provides, the primary of which is salvation, described by Pascal. But there is a secondary form, fulfillment that comes when we are becoming who God redeemed us to be as we contribute to His kingdom work. This issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine explores that secondary sort. Stephen Oliver provides his take in “Fulfillment Lessons Learned from a Doctor-to-Be”:

“After reading [Wendell] Berry’s thoughts in regard to education it suddenly and naturally occurred to me that this was the way to true, Christ-honoring, long-lasting fulfillment in my current situation: by viewing my current educational training as enablement for future service. But the impact of Berry’s writing did not stop here. This realization then helped me to quickly differentiate who I would emulate in my future career and what priorities I would have: to be fulfilled, I would have to seek to emulate those old doctors, those doctors who came to their region, found opportunities to serve, and dug in for decades, despite the possibilities of a slighter higher paycheck or a slightly more prestigious position elsewhere.”

Vocational fulfillment is inextricably tied to a heart of service. We serve others through our work, using the gifts and talents God has bestowed. It is found in community, working together for the common good.

This communal aspect of fulfillment is exactly what Jessica Snell details in “Galavant: Finding Meaning in a Merry, Mocking Medieval Musical.” In ABC’s Galavant, Snell finds a cast of characters whose lives are intertwined and whose pursuit of fulfillment echoes our own:

“Man has a proper end, and he can reach that end when his potential has been properly fulfilled. All human beings do change over time, and if the way we change is growth and not degeneration, then we will be fulfilled. That is, if we grow in accordance with our telos, we really can glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

How fulfillment happens—or if it does—may be a mystery for the ages. But along the way, we find traces of it in our work and in our culture, making it worth the consideration.

—Erin Straza

Illustration courtesy of Seth T. Hahne. Check out Seth’s graphic novel and comic review site, Good Ok Bad.

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