Rumor on the street is that Prince William only married Kate after today’s guest turned him down. Okay, maybe not. But it’s just ’cause he never met her. Erika Kraus has been one of my nearest and dearest since 2003. Erika serves as the Director of Haiti Transformed and you can read about some of the incredible people they partner with in Haiti at beyondtherubble.com. Take notes today friends, take notes.
“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” – Richard Foster
These days the world is incredibly complicated. I was running at the gym last week – after a really challenging day at work staring at the televisions in front of me. One was set on a music television channel where a young girl was singing adult lyrics dressed in almost lingerie. Another hosted coverage of the crisis in Gaza. I think some Adam Sandler movie was on and maybe some sports coverage as well, but I hardly noticed those.
And out of nowhere I choked up-
Considering the fact that I had already had a rough day and felt terribly overwhelmed, I turned my music up, focused on running that incline and tried to suppress the grief welling up within me.
On top of the challenges our staff and friends were facing in Haiti, I didn’t want to touch the pain rising from a small strip of land in the Middle East nor the sadness that young women grow up with impossible standards and expectations. I definitely didn’t want to face my own disappointment with myself for not looking as good as I think I should (in comparison).
The older I get the more I realize that in the midst of my own complicated realities, one of the scariest things I can do is face the pains of this oh so complicated world. Situations like Gaza – brokenness and disappointment – violence on every side – two wrongs and no clear right – are hard.
Equipping our staff in Haiti to live full and fruitful lives in a land where there is no seeming opportunity and endless amounts of corruption is hard. Living near women my age — some loosing babies to miscarriage and husbands to affairs– some waiting for love they’ve yet to taste, wondering if all the good guys will marry 10 years down, fighting against self-discrimination just like I do…this is tough also.
When the world inside us and the world around us seems caddy-wonkus the last thing we feel humanly equipped to do is face the grey and the muddled, the complicated and the impossible.
It’s messy to live in tension — ask good questions, listen to the other side, pray, be near God, stay intimately close to people, and celebrate greater truths.
Here are some easier things to do:
1. Not rock the boat with tensions/convictions you feel — stick to the status quo — don’t burden anyone else with what you care about.
2. Numb out your awareness– be busy, pretend it’s not there
3. Bark at situations but don’t engage internally – have strong (yet shallow) opinions, but don’t bother with the deeper realities of what people are facing. Judge from a distance.
Here are some ultimately harder things to do:
1. Grow a Savior complex — and sell your entire soul and identity to a cause.
2. Alienate friends and relationships because they don’t agree with you. Stand at the poles, but don’t risk seeing and hearing the other side.
Many of us want a platform to make a difference from, we want to change the world, make it better, grow a garden for others in the midst of pain.
What I’ve realized living in Seattle in Haiti and in Texas is that no matter where I am – this means that I live with tension and resistance. It means picking up the burden of grief and suffering with. It means staying close when I’d rather run — asking questions to myself and to others, and living near God and celebrating His ways in the middle of life’s discrepancies and disappointments.
I’ve never felt so tempted to disconnect from a life in God and belief in people as when I am overwhelmed with complicated situations that seem to have no answer. I’ve also never felt so alive as when I do engage God and people in the midst of complicated situations that have no answer.
While seemingly ill-equipped for a life so laden with grief– still we are made for Heaven and draw Heaven’s light to earth when we connect to God in the grey of life- ask great questions, dig deeper wells, and love in the midst of pain.
To live fully alive, is to live awake to Heaven and awake to Truth without dismissing or denying the pain around or inside us.
That day at the gym, after running myself ragged on an incline that didn’t absorb my sadness, I turned down my music and let myself ache — I faced the images in Gaza and prayed for peace. I thought of people I know on both sides of the situation — and prayed for the impossible. I prayed for light and forgiveness in a bloody mess, asked God questions, and then waited for the burden to lift. And while the sadness didn’t — the weight of it did.
From there I found myself praying for other things…talking about my friends in Haiti, my own desires and wants, the babies my friends hope for… And here I knew I partnered with Hope rather than avoid the Dark — I resisted apathy, I treasured a greater Truth. All this on a treadmill.
My pastor often says–“We are made for love and war” — Love and connection with God and one another–and war against the dark that destroys us.
We want to change the world, but do we know how to live in tension and find grace in the resistance?
Do we know how to dig deeper wells…so that we don’t dry up but instead bubble over with wisdom and light for some of the most challenging situations on earth?
We can’t face and carry the burdens of this world if we disconnect, dis-engage, or stand in the shallow end from the sidelines. There is a well for you and for me — if we choose it — and a wider breadth of relationship and revelation. Beauty and grace to reveal in the midst of “suffering with”.
If we’d be the people who don’t turn back, but dig deep in the haze of the grey, in the pain of the resistance, we’ll find that the gardens we so often hoped we’d plant will often bloom.
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