We had a dinner party Saturday night. We ate, and drank, and talked with old friends and new.
One of those new friends dropped a shrimp appetizer on the floor within minutes of getting there, launching that poor little sucker in front of a small group of wide-eyed spectators. Bless her heart; what a way to start the evening, with a bunch of strangers. I told her, Don’t worry. By the end of the night, I will probably have spilled red wine on my white shirt.
I was right. She laughed as she pointed it out to me later.
There were a lot of laughs shared around the table that night; mine included. At the same time, I did everything I could to hold back tears in front of these old friends and new; tears that threatened to dampen the evening’s festivities, had I let them roll. They would have been unstoppable. I didn’t want to rain on everybody’s parade because, after all, we were there for a good cause and there was much to celebrate: four more children would now be cared for in Uganda through an organization my husband and I are involved with. He leaves next week to go back.
I think it’s time for me to finally go, too.
I haven’t wanted to. There is not a cell in my body that wants to travel thirty to forty hours to get there, “shower” with an orange bucket, eat goat, and get bitten by bugs. (I hate bugs.)
My husband likens me to the story of the princess and the pea. You get where he’s going with this.
But as much as I dislike those kinds of inconveniences, the truth is, I haven’t had the desire to do much of anything the last few years, for any reason. Oh, I dabble in this and I dabble in that…I write some, speak some, blog some… But nothing has penetrated my soul and motivated me to really do something with my life. I haven’t pursued any of those things with any real hunger or excitement.
For a long time now, I have been in a very strange place. Passionless.
I’ve been trying everything to get it back. I know that some people think we each have a “calling” and we just have to find it, then go for it and make things happen. I’ve done that. I’ve made things happen.
Then there are those that subscribe to the thought of, “just love God, love others, and do what you want.” I’ve done that too.
And then there are those who say, Wait on God – He’ll show you what you should do…Yup, yup, yup. I’ve thought about it all; have tried everything in the book.
And could still give a rip.
For years I have been asking myself and God, Why? What in the world is wrong with me? Why don’t I care all that much about “going” for anything?
After that interesting night of shrimp launching and me tie-dyeing my clothing, I think I finally found my answer.
The morning after the dinner, as we headed to church, the previous evening’s events continued to go through my mind. We had talked about children living in little mud-huts trying to survive without parents, having lost them to AIDS…we talked about how happy they were to receive letters from us…how one precious girl was elated to eat her one piece of candy…we looked at pictures of kids whose dirty and tattered clothes were the only ones they had…we talked about a video in which our sponsored girl talked about how thankful she was that we would “waste” our money on her.
Waste our money on her.
That broke me. It finally broke me.
Because I finally let it.
You see, it dawned on me, on that freeway to church, that over the years I had erected a huge wall around my heart to keep me from feeling the deep pain of others.
I started thinking about the fact that I’m the one who turns the channel when a commercial comes on about animal cruelty…that I turn off the television when a report about child abuse comes on the news or there’s a story about bullying…how I can’t stand watching shows on starving children in places like, well, Africa.
Why? Not because I’m cold-hearted. Actually, on the contrary. The truth is, I am an extremely sensitive person and absorb everything around me. Those types of things consume me. Rattle me. I cannot get them out of my mind. So, in an effort to protect myself, I unwittingly built a wall around my heart and put up a guard. Because if I didn’t, those images would ruin my day. My sleep. My life.
And it hit me –
Maybe it’s time to let my sweet little life be ruined.
Be in the mess of others. Be uncomfortable. Be in the hard.
It’s easy to throw money at a problem and then look the other way. It’s a blast, throwing dinner parties to get more kids sponsored. And all of that, by the way, is not bad in and of itself.
What’s not easy, is letting your heart be consumed to the point where you can’t think straight; where it takes forever to write a blog about it because you have to stop every five minutes to process. And I realize…
Jesus couldn’t wash His disciples’ feet without being willing to get dirty water on Himself.
He could have done things the easy way, too…thrown some spoken words of healing and forgiveness from afar rather than touch the leper, or have a conversation with the prostitute, or touch the eyes of a blind man with spit and mud in the palm of His hands.
No. He got muddy.
And I believe that that fueled His mission. Ignited His passion. When He saw the tears of those He loved after Lazarus’ death, He, Himself, cried and it moved Him enough to bring forth life. When He wanted to be alone, but people kept following Him, begging to be healed, He had compassion on them, and it moved Him to heal.
Compassion. Oh. There’s the passion I’ve been looking for.
Jesus fixated on people. I turned the channel.
Jesus let their stories touch His soul. I gave money. And threw dinner parties.
No wonder I lost my passion. There was no “who” behind my “why.”
Just a lot of “what.”
I cry as I type this.
I look at the picture above, at Pretty – yes, that’s her real name – number 427. She is ours now. I can’t wait to meet her, and Peace, and Caleb. Because love propels us to travel forty hours, eat goat, and hang with bugs.
And write. And speak. And blog.
Love is what fuels our passion.
Love for God and love for others. And true love, by the way, always involves a sacrificial cross; a “wrecked” life for the sake of another.
I wonder what would happen in this world if more of us took down the walls of self-protection.
And got over ourselves.
And got our minds off ourselves.
And got over living for ourselves.
Because living for oneself will never, ever bring the fulfillment, satisfaction, joy, sense of purpose, meaning, peace and even happiness we are all looking for.
Nor will it spur us on to do great things. Life-changing things. Passionate things.
It’s sobering to look at the picture above: a menu with filet and a little girl with dirt.
But I am now willing to look. And let it wreck me. And fuel me.
How about you?
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