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 little video clip in which our sponsored girl said 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 can’t help but wonder if maybe 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; an inconvenienced 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?
(Don’t miss a post! Click here to receive posts by email.)
Love you.Love your heart . Love this word.Are you going now?
Thank you! It’s too late to go this trip – they leave next week. I’ll go the next one, probably Spring of next year.
Thank you Sherri. This spoke to my heart. I’ve struggled similarly. There are medical/physical limitations that I am battling as well. I guess it’s a struggle of how will my body allow me to serve, get involved, get dirty.
I hope the trip you take lights your passion.
Thank you so much, sweet friend. Praying God will bless you, heal you, and provide just the right opportunities to serve and get dirty!
I am sitting here bawling my eyes out – thank you for every single word. I can’t wait to have you there when it is right for you and I love that your willing to be wrecked here too. Most don’t … you are the 1%. Now I’m going to grab some tissue so I don’t scare the kids with my mascara running all down my face.
Thank you, my friend. Your words mean much!!
Sherri, I know truth when I experience it, when I hear it and when I see it. You write a truth I know on all those levels and it was gifted to me through a revelation from God that persisted only because I kept saying. “Yes”. He never fails us and everything He brings is GOOD, God-sized GOOD, when we trust Him to get out of,the boat and let Him break our heart. A heart that breaks like His is a heart worth giving. A heart worth sharing and living boldly in this fallen world. You alone know what He has for you. I am by your side, along with others, in your walk of faith. It’s too good to miss.
Oh, sweet friend, thank you!!
Thank you, Sherry, for being so willing to share your vulnerability with us. You always speak to my heart.
Thank you so much, precious friend.
I struggle with similar walls around my heart. I feel but most of the time I don’t let my self FEEL. I move forward. I need to be wrecked as well and not immediately push through. I need to stay in the mud a bit longer. Thank you for sharing this!
Feeling can be so dang hard! Thanks for your thoughts, sweet friend – it is always nice to know we are not alone. ❤️
Thanks Sherry for writing this I see myself in this as well
Thank you, my friend
This is rich. Darn you. Rest well, miss you both.
Thank you, sweet friend – miss you guys too!
Choked up. Tears. Truth. Thank you for that Sherri. I’m going to be saving this on my desk top to read again and again. I’ve been that girl – lost, in pain and passionless for a long time now. Depressed and wallowing even. Waiting. Looking and listening for God to reveal my “why” to continue marching (ever so slowly) on. Now I think I’ll add a “who” to the mix of pleas to my Lord. Thank you for being a piece of this hard puzzle called life, I’m struggling with. Bless you.
“Depressed and wallowing even. Waiting.” Me too, my friend. Me too.
Thank you for this! You brought me right back to where I was 15 years ago and I got chills! I was so moved by the words you crafted so well to describe what it feels like when the walls come crashing down and the tears flow! I hope to be on a trip with you and share what it feels like to have our hearts broken for what breaks His Heart. Thanks Sherri for hosting the event and for sharing, with true vulnerability, what it feels like to be broken for the broken!
Oh, thank you, sweet friend! So humbled to share this journey with so many wonderful people ❤️
I remember when I found out the hideous details of Dakota’s shattered life with his birth mom. Things like living out in the middle of the desert in a beat up nasty trailer with not a tree around, and no AC. His mom being MIA running and gunning and he and his siblings being left without food for days on end and running around filthy and lonely.
Then I learned of all of the horrible despicable emotional and physical abuse that was inflicted on him. With that, I fell into clinical depression and had to be treated.
Next, all the years of family therapy where more messy stuff was discovered. Man, talk about wanting to run away.
I totally get it. Who wants to feel that kind of emotional pain?? That heart wrenching empathy and sympathy. The anger and outrage. It is just heart numbing at times. Because you just can’t hurt every single minute of the day can you??
But I tell you what beautiful Sherri. I would do it again. In a heartbeat! It was the single best thing I’ve ever done or will do during my time on my little planet. Messy, and all.
So…you go girl! And when your heart breaks for these little children that you are sponsoring to where you ask “But God, why??why do they have to suffer. And how can I feel this without it totally killing me?” you need only pick up the phone and let your loved ones be your strength. Let your friends and family be your rock praying for you, counseling you, hugging and holding you.
Just the way you did for me…
I love you.
Oh gosh, friend, thank you. Your words comfort my soul. And you will be one of those I call. I love you back. ❤️❤️❤️