I am struggling. No! I am BATTLING. Battling to find my way. Find my way into the impoverished communities that are drawing my heart. Drawing my heart to see, to REALLY see who they are. See who they are so that I may understand how to best serve them and how to best stand WITH them. With them. Not apart from them.
As I habitually (you can say out of self-preservation) draw my circle of life and existence to exclude the suffering, I find that circle lacking. Lacking because my faith is nothing without works. Works to clothe the naked. Works to feed the poor. Works to help the sick. The orphans. The widowed. My holy scriptures demand that I do them. Not because my works will be what saves me, but because works and good deeds are a natural outpouring of someone who has been saved. Saved when they were clearly undeserving. Saved by grace. No one fights more to save others than those who themselves have been saved. You can say they have been freed. Freed from poverty, from slavery, from the drudgery of a life without purpose.
I am struggling because I want to draw that circle. I want my circle to be free of pain, of illness, of suffering. Can I be so cavalier to draw said circle now because I and mine are currently not ill, not poor, not suffering? And I wonder. Wonder what will that do to my children. If I craft this world for them that never exposes them? It’s not a real circle is it? Pain and suffering will come no matter how hard we try so to attempt to exclude it from our lives, and no one carries the burden more nimbly than those already carrying it on a daily basis. Can we not learn from them? We’re so convinced there is so much they must learn from us.
I was on the verge of surrender. Trying to make pathways into a community where I didn’t speak the language. Charged with communicating complex ideas without my most sharpened of tools – My words. I confessed to my fellow volunteers that I didn’t see how I could make a real difference being mute. Relying on others to translate my heart’s message. My heart’s burden for my youth. Youth who simply want a breath of the winds of change. Youth with empty tummies and eyes full of injustices. But all along God has been speaking to me. I hear Him saying. Show up and shut up. SHOW UP. I’ve always had a way with words but amongst my youth I am silent. Only able to communicate with my touch. With my presence. Understanding now there must be something I am to learn from them.
Only God knows what the natural extension of this burden on my heart will produce. This struggle that addles my mind day in and day out and never leaves me quite alone. For now, though, He is saying. Don’t start then quit. Quitting is no longer who you are. COMMIT, PERSIST and keep SHOWING UP.
See below for a video on compassion and kinship that has renewed my fervor for working with those on the margins.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17