But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart again his, how does God’s love abide in him?
1 John 3:17
There are days I love it here.
Today is not one of those days.
Today, I am tired. I am tired of pothole-riddled dirt roads. Tired of cramming five people into the backseat of a car meant for three. Tired of eating rice day in and day out. Tired of tucking myself inside a mosquito net every night and being surrounded by flies every day. Tired of trying to be the light of the world when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and hide.
Today, I miss my bed. I miss my pillow. I miss my room. I miss having space to myself. I miss my clothes. I miss being alone, actually alone, not the semi-private-World-Race-alone-zone involving headphones, a journal/book/Bible, and at least three other people in the room. I miss being able to go places by myself. I miss understanding the language. I miss anonymity. I miss walking down the street without constantly being stared at.
But truthfully, if we’re being honest – and at some point along the way I think I promised myself that I would be honest on this here blog – I miss my complacency, my comfort of mind as well as body.
I miss the days when people living in one-room mud houses were abstract.
I miss the days when stories of abandoned children were stories, not sitting in front of me.
I miss the days when orphans without their next meal guaranteed were children I saw in photographs, not held in my arms.
I miss the days when it wasn’t all so real. When I could ignore and forget and live in my happy little bubble. When I wasn’t laying hands on those in mud houses and holding the hands of those without parents.
I miss not caring.
I miss the days when I asked myself what I was going to do after graduation, what kind of job I wanted, where I wanted to live, not what are you going to do about this?
Because how can I look into the faces of children abandoned, forgotten, left to die, malnourished, alone – and yet so full of joy and love – and not do something about it?
What are you going to do?
I want to go home. I want to go back to my suburban American life and become busy again, busy with summer camp and school and all those things that can occupy me so easily, that can take all my attention and leave me without time to worry about the world. I want to forget, I want to ignore, I want to leave here with my heart and my post-grad plans intact.
And I’m terrified that it will happen. Scared that I’ll go home and out of sight, out of mind will become reality and I’ll forget the hard truths of the world when they aren’t staring me in the face.
I miss not caring, because caring hurts. Because caring means you lay your hands on a woman, you intercede for her, you beg the Lord to repair her marriage, to heal sickness, to provide for her children, and then you walk away knowing you’ll probably never see her again and you’ll have no idea what will come of her, and your heart hurts. Because caring means watching a young girl cry as jiggers are dug out of her feet, and your heart hurts. Because caring means you cradle a precious baby child – born to a young mother who was raped by a pastor supporting the orphanage she lived in – and you have no idea if this baby will have enough food, will have an education, will grow up strong and healthy and live a good life, and your heart hurts.
Because caring means staring at your empty hands and despairing that you can’t hug every child, much less feed them all. Because caring throws a wrench into your carefully constructed plans to graduate and get a job and continue living your suburban American life. Because caring, plain and simple, means that sometimes, your heart hurts.
What are you going to do about it?
I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but this I know: I do not want to go home and forget. I do not want to leave this place and leave behind the children I’ve loved, the people I’ve met, the pain I’ve seen. I do not want to pick up my life where I left it and tamp down the ache in my heart until I can safely ignore it.
I miss not caring. But I don’t want to stop caring.
Lord, what do you want me to do about it?