There are times when I’m intrigued by the lives of well-known personalities. So often they can be seen to be achieving so much in their lives, and yet at times there emerges the frailties that they can suffer in their more private moments. There can be no doubting the influence and success that they have, but we don’t often catch a glimpse of the inner person that may be quietly plagued with doubt and fear.
I recently came across a Guardian newspaper interview with Lisa Brennan-Jobs. I suspect that name will not be instantly recognisable, but Lisa is the daughter of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, the company that is now the largest in the world by market value (over 1 trillion dollars). He was in many senses a brilliant man – a visionary of how technology could be designed and produced to not only look and feel good, but effectively support new and effective ways of doing things. One well-known example was the launch of the iPhone back in 2007, a totally new approach to the mobile phone which changed the market completely. Since that time most mobile phone manufacturers try to out-do the latest iPhone with each release of a new product.If you keep pace with technology you’ll know that much has been said and written about Steve Jobs and his leadership style – my take is that he was a driven perfectionist which could probably either crush or bring out the best in those around him. What perhaps is not so well known is how he coped with family relationships, and that’s where the article with Lisa Brennan-Jobs comes in.
Lisa was born out of a relationship between Steve Jobs and Chrisann Brennan when the couple were in their twenties. The arrival of Lisa coincided with the founding of Apple and the relationship faltered, with Steve Jobs denying that Lisa was his daughter for many years. Over time, Lisa’s relationship with her father began to grow, but it was never straightforward – indeed the title of the newspaper interview was, “The daughter that Steve
Jobs denied: ‘Clearly I was not compelling enough for my father,’” which gives a clue.
The reason for the interview is that Lisa has written a book about her experiences, entitled “Small Fry,” that was launched in September. The extracts from the book and the interview show that while there were tough times, there were some very good times too, but you do get the feeling that Lisa still carries some of the scars from the early (and later) years.
Steve Jobs died at the age of 56 in 2011, and from the interview account there was some healing of the relationship in his last months. I think one of the most poignant lines in the interview is the following – “One of the difficult things you realise when you’re very sick is that the only thing you could do to make it better is time, and it’s the one thing you don’t have.”
What would I take from all this? No matter how successful we may be there’s likely to be some inner baggage that we carry. No matter how hard parents try there is likely to be some things that they get wrong and may, unwittingly, cause deep scars in their children. No matter how distant we may feel from family, it’s important to put things right while time allows.
And where would God be in all of this?
From my own experience I would say that he comes from a place of understanding for our weaknesses as humans, and when we turn to him with our mistakes and hurts, he brings an inner healing, and the peace that goes beyond all understanding. No one is so lost or troubled that their lives can’t be turned around. No one is beyond the reach of God.
May his rich blessings be upon you.
Rev. Tony Stephens