But what about the unseen pain?
Stepping into others pain is quite different. In order for me to truly step into anothers' pain I would have to give up something I love very much. I would have to forgo a part of my life that keeps me comfortable. I have to change some things, alter my life, rework my schedule, redefine my priorities...
In order to step into anothers' pain, I must be willing to see past my own....
I have spent the past 30+ years staring at my own nose. I have kept my focus on me for as long as I can remember. It was always about "ME", the alpha dog in my world. When I was young, I focused on what course of studies would make "me" a better person. When I married, I wanted my husband to make "me" feel worthy, pretty, loved and special. When I had children, I wanted their actions to reflect positively upon "me". When I began training clients, I took every gain, every quit, every failed attempt as a direct attack against "me" and my skills. Even in searching for my calling and my ministry, the focus was all "me". I wanted a skill that would make others like "me", see "me" in a good light, and want to be with "me". This kind of life is exhausting.
Seeing the forest through the trees.
So, how did I get past my own nose? Well, at first I tried to fix it myself. I came up with a plan and worked fervently to implement it. I tried to make nice, give away things and skills, small talk, etc. Well, none of that worked because it was still ME. It was my plan, my path, my way of thinking. The more I struggled and the more I planned, the more removed I began to feel. I would jump at the chance to give things away (f I had a dollar for every auction item I ever gave out...) and offer free advice to people. I racked my brain for blog posts that would help and I poured my heart into helping those who asked...all the while knowing full-well that they would one day return the favor. Or so I thought....
My mind was always fixed on the one person who I thought could benefit the most: ME. Even in doing good, I was focused on my benefit. It took control being forcibly taken from me for my focus to change.
It took a major breakdown to cause a major breakthrough.....
You likely already know I flew to Moldova with a team of talented people to help the community there. If not, scroll back a bit :). Well, I had felt that I was called to teach self-defense to these girls. Upon landing in a new day and hitting the ground running, I was greeted with several uninvited circumstances. I could not for my life get the Wi-Fi to work (tragic, first-world problem of the year!) and therefore could not reach my husband. Self defense was nowhere on the agenda. Finally, our room smelled a bit like sewer...int the worst way.
Well, I did what I am best at in these situations: I pouted....like a toddler. I sat on the floor of the stinky bathroom, cursing the calling to this trip and begging God to just let Satan win this one. True story, though I am shamed to admit it. I wanted to go home. Home was comfortable...and smelled better. Can you imagine? I quit! Just up and quit, like it was nothing.
Luckily, prayer works even if I stop. Through the night God worked on my rigid heart. It was my turn to suck it up. I was there for a reason, even if it wasn't what I thought. So, I went about my business with my eyes glued to my nose. During the crochet session, something miraculous happened. Now, I cannot crotchet at all (see the proof below), but as I began to work on my "wash rag" I just kept going. It looked as though a 2 year old had made it, but I was OK. There were giggles and fun poking, but I was OK. This was so not my comfort zone, but I was OK.....
Where the beauty comes in.
It was in this moment, as I bonded with girls who did not speak the same language as me that my eyes began to drift past my own nose. Though my Wi-Fi was down, I could plainly see what was going on in the world. I saw pain beginning to heal by the kindness shared. We weren't building houses or planting gardens, we were watering souls instead of soil. There was a beauty here I cannot quite explain. It transcended all the things I thought were beautiful before. It was the beauty that God sees in His people. This is why He does not give up on us. He sees what He has made and He sees what can be done through us...if only we are willing.
So, the final question lies with you.
What have you given up on? Have you stopped helping others because you are too enthralled by your own nose? Do you find yourself stuck in your own circumstances? Do you bury your head in the misguided belief that somebody else will fix it? Do you rely on old excuses like being too busy? What has happened to your passion? And what are you willing to do to find it?
Can you let go of that which you find so comfortable? Are you willing to stand face to face with change? Or.....will you simply let the world keep spinning and pay the price at the final judgement?
How will you be remembered?
For me, I hope a date doesn't even need to be told. The time I spend here is of little consequence in eternity.....but the effort I put forth will yield great gains.
What are you building?