Break my heart…
You prayed what? Girl, you’re crazy.
Yep. It seems counter-cultural to pray that God would break our hearts. Why would anyone want to experience hurt, longing, see injustice, get dirty, spend time investing in something when you may not see a return?
It all started when a friend of mine, Courtney, shared with me her plans to return to Uganda. To live.
When I returned from two and a half months in Ghana years ago my heart had hardened. It was the toughest and most trying experience of my life. A part of me had to shut down so that I could function. There’s a ton more to explore there but for purposes of this post I’ll press on. The hardened heart combined with leaving the injustice/social concern projects in college and taking on the big world shifted me into a fairly selfish couple of years. My service was to my patients but outside of work my life revolved about what I wanted and felt I needed – making friends, putting my first place together, learning a new city and state, finding a church, hoping to meet the love of my life. Please hear me – none of these things are bad. I had lost my eternal perspective, which shifted the things above into a self-serving place. I continued to pray for local and foreign missionaries and refugees settling in to our city. I even thought about volunteering multiple times but never got plugged in. Even more, I had placed a pad-lock on the area of my brain/heart so formerly focused on foreign missions. I was all for other people going. I’d help fund them. I’d pray for them. But don’t even think about asking me. I was not a candidate. I was not “good at it.” I was not “built” for that. What I had felt my calling to be for so long was now changed and I felt I had failed.
Anywho, back to Courtney. She sold t-shifts to raise money for her move. Sure, I’ll buy a t-shirt. It’s for a good cause. And I needed a t-shirt. When I saw the design I froze. Inscribed across the shape of the Africa were the words “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God”. Whoa. Um. Could I really wear that? Could I ever want that again? Brokenness. I knew enough to know that it wasn’t going to be pleasant. This wasn’t going to be easy or fun. No smiley, butterflies and lovey feelings. But instead pain, longing, grit, hands dirty, thought-provoking, and a time of praying for help. Over the next few days Jesus and I had a heart-to-heart. I was scared the Band-Aids would be ripped from my eyes and the site of overwhelming need would paralyze me. I prayed that he would gently begin to open my eyes and to break my heart. I knew it would force me to return to what had shut down my heart in the first place, to relive my experiences, the loneliness, the stress. But I knew He was with me. The verse that held me through my time in Ghana was coming full circle.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me.
Your right hand will hold me fast. – Psalm 139:9-10
I put on the shirt and trusted that the Heavenly Father would bring me back to a place of opened eyes and compassion.
Shortly after that the boyfriend and I attended an event where Bob Goff spoke on living out faith through love. Loving others. Putting others first. Intervening. Helping those in need. It was convicting, challenging and spurred me on. “Okay, Lord. Help me start small.” I prayed. Over the next few days He presented opportunities, opened my eyes and gave me the courage to act. Each time I trusted Him and each time a little bit more of that wall crumbled.
A couple of weeks later my dear friend Mary and her husband came for a visit. She has a knack for accepting people “as is” and is one of the most compassionate people I know. It was refreshing to get to spend some time together. She left me a birthday present to open after they left. It was a journal where she wrote about how Jesus was around 30 when he started his ministry and encouraged me to a year of service. I knew I’d fail over and over. I knew I needed a heep of grace because I was going to mess it up. But the time had come to stop thinking about me and to instead feed and clothe the poor. Give water to the thirsty. To be the “hands and feet of Christ”. To believe in redemption and restoration, even if I don’t see it in my lifetime. To love those society has deemed unlovable. To write love on her arms. To love. My eyes peeped open, ever so slightly, and the desire grew in me to help those in need locally, nationally and internationally. It’s been a challenge and my selfishness is still readily apparent but I’m growing. My boyfriend and I plan to dive into some hands-on service this month with a local food bank and our community group is discussing the next service project. Love is on the horizon.
What about you? Are you up for the challenge? With a little over seven months left in 2014 I encourage you to get involved with your neighbors, those in need in your city, state, throughout your country and globally. If you need an idea for global assistance, please consider supporting Courtney as she moves to Uganda to work with A Child’s Voice. For more information about Courtney’s call, the organization and how you can be involved please read her letter. And if you feel led to donate, she has $5,879.29 left to raise in the next six weeks 🙂
Have a wonderful week!