The first time I visited the country of Haiti I wanted to die. That sounds really dramatic, doesn’t it? I couldn’t process the ride from the airport to the compound where we would be staying the next 5 weeks. A part of me realized that, on my own, this was more than I could experience and have my heart survive. I knew it would change my comfortable oblivion. I didn’t want to live in a world where that level of poverty existed, I didn’t want to know that for so many years I didn’t give a second thought to people who lived in poverty. I think I was embarrassed and ashamed. Even though as a nurse, I would tell you that I was very acquainted with poverty and people in difficult circumstances. I did know some things, but I didn’t know everything like I thought. I’m pretty sure the first 3 days of our 5 week visit I spent curled up on the bed bawling my eyes out. How could I have lived so many years and not seen my responsibility in what is going on in the world? (Remember..I warned you in my first post that I am a person who feels things deeply. Hence, the level of feelings.) Lots of people since then have questioned why we need to go to Haiti to “help” people. I would say to them today that I needed Haiti more than Haiti needed me. Haiti was just the beginning of understanding who I am as a child of God. I would never have found that here in my safe bubble, living 150 miles from the town I grew up in. I already had tunnel vision from years of doing things my way. I was arrogant and strong willed. I knew best, right?
I needed God to break my stubborn heart, to give me hearing ears, to really show me grace. In other words-I needed God to blow me up and put me back together. There’s nothing like being thrown into a place that is so unlike anything you’ve ever known to get your attention. Haiti was an assault on my senses, every single one…seeing things, smelling things, hearing things…OVERWHELMED. I would love to tell you that 5 years later I am a pro, it’s easy….it’s not. But I love Haiti and the people there more than I could have ever imagined. I don’t ever want hearing from God and seeing what He needs me to see to be “easy”. I’m pretty done with the easy road, the easy life, the complete unawareness of the world. I don’t want to be comfortable because comfortable is a dangerous place for someone professing to love Jesus. Comfortable complacency is a dark place. He didn’t promise us comfortable and easy…but he did mention persecution and doing hard things. I think I’m just starting to realize the tension that you live in when you have your feet planted in two very different cultures. One culture of ease and comfort where everyone seems so out of sorts and unhappy and mostly unaware of what goes on in the rest of the world. One culture of hardship and lack of basic necessities where people show sadness, grace, hope, and joy in such a beautiful way. (Please, note there are exceptions to both of these groups. And I’m not classifying ALL people when I write those words.)
I had been a Christian for many years before I stepped off the plane in Haiti that June day in 2011. I knew all kinds of things that Jesus had said, but I hadn’t lived in a space where I was compelled to take action. I was not a “missionary” after all. Then over 5 weeks God reminded me that we are all on mission to make disciples, we are all called to care for the widows and the orphans, we are CALLED to see the lonely, broken, downtrodden, marginalized….the least of these. And when we don’t do these things? I realized I was living my life in direct disobedience to what Jesus had instructed me to do. At home and in Haiti. I use the word “mission” a lot differently today. God didn’t have to send me anywhere for me to learn that he is a Sovereign God, that He expects me to show love and care for others wherever I am. He could have spoke that to me anywhere including my own living room. I don’t question why God sends people or where he sends them. I’m reminded how often Paul was sent somewhere or kept from going somewhere. I’m also reminded that while God sees all things, I see things based on my small view of the world shaped by my own ideas and experiences.
Wrapping this up…. I’m reminded of the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus was leaving us with this very serious picture of a day when we would be separated by what we did. If you did this for the least of these…sheep. If you didn’t…goat. That’s a pretty serious deal. He was talking about how we loved people, how we cared for others! On how we approached humanity. This was not a “works” based parable..it is a parable based on our very salvation. Jesus was saying because of your salvation this is what will pour from you. It is an effect of salvation. We receive salvation through Christ’s final act of sacrifice on the cross. God’s grace poured out…and there is nothing we can do to “work” for that. But Jesus is reminding us that out of that act, out of our choice to follow him…we have a responsibility. We are glimpses of light, we are his light bearers in the world. Do we do that well? Especially in our neighborhoods, communities, social media platforms… In our opinions about politics, people, and cultures? In our actions? I often say, God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness…so here’s a different spin on that… Is God more interested in us being “right” in the world’s eyes or being a holy example of Jesus to the least of these?
Are we awake? Or are we sleep walking through this life?
Lord…give us eyes to see and ears to hear….
Wow! It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a blog post. Years! I remain in this constant tension about writing words that I let other people read. Although I love writing words it is sometimes hard to let people see you at your most vulnerable! So….. In 2012 I stopped writing. It seemed right at the time, to just stop, to take a break. It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 years since I’ve written anything! I have learned a lot about myself and the world the last 4 years. And so much has changed!!
When I first started writing a blog..way back in the day..it was a new thing. My first blog post was March of 2007! Not many people were writing blogs in 2007. But-today! Nine years later there are all kinds of bloggers in the world. People write about everything! You name it and there’s probably a blog about it! Cooking, traveling, politics, being a mommy, and on and on! I’m not really a topical blogger. I don’t do anything well enough to pass along any great ideas. I don’t hold down a certain niche. I like to think that I’m more of a soul writer. (My own made up concept!) I have a couple of friends that write like this..and I love reading their thoughts. Soul writers do things a little differently, they pour out their very souls, the good and the bad of it. They write from a place of emotion, not needing to feel validated but oh, so very hopeful that what they share may help someone else. Don’t get me wrong I have thoughts and opinions and I’ve been known to share those from time to time but I mostly write from a place of emotion. God gave me a heart that is super in tune with what others are feeling. I always seem to notice the little details. Good or bad it’s how I’m wired. It took me a very long time to be okay with that. Feeling emotion deeply is not always a great place to live, it’s sometimes very painful! But having lived a few years now, I’m not sure I would change anything. I’ve learned to set some limits, no binge watching whatever tragedy has happened in the world. Not that I don’t care…because I do! But I know too many of those images inside my head will leave me wrapped up in a blanket, in my PJ’s, in the floor in front of the TV for days. My ideas about how to interact with the world have changed a lot in the last 9 years!
I really had to examine my heart and see if I wanted to write again. What is the purpose? Why spend the time? This little corner of the internet has been here waiting patiently for some time, thanks to my sweet husband, waiting for a new beginning. Waiting for some words. I’ve been pretty hesitant to write again! I see the way the internet has taken over lives and how it has been breeding this complete lack of restraint. We say whatever we want without regard to the other person’s feelings and we feel like this platform of cyberspace gives us complete anonymity to say whatever we want. But does it? Or, does it just make us look like bullies who are constantly angry and unhappy. Recently, I’ve felt that there needed to be some voices out there that are kind…that show that people still care about one another. It was enough of a reason to write again. I hope that is the place I write from and the things I write about. I want you to know who Jesus is and how knowing him has made me different, for the better. I want you to know about my Haiti family and my friends that I’ve met thru Haiti from all around the world. I want you to meet some of my friends here that are creative and have things to share! (You’ll be seeing them here!) If there is one thing good about the internet..it makes the world smaller. It makes us see one another. It drives us to action…to do something. To love others far from where we live, to love our neighbors next door! So, my dear friend…this little corner is a new beginning for me! A place to share and write and love and learn and shout and cry and care……to care…that is the reason I’ve come back to here. There is much to say…tonight is just the beginning.