“What if I rushed towards the pain of the world instead of turning away from it?”
Glennon Doyle Melton
Recently another heartbreaking image and news story flashed across the screens of millions.
I will be honest. Rather than click the link to watch the full video or view the image gallery, I chose to ignore it. I didn’t want the negativity. I felt as though there was already too much to deal with in my life as it was.
You know what?
I was wrong.
As Glennon Doyle Melton says in a beautifully written blog post,
“…let us not say: I can’t look at this. It’s just too much. That is not true. It is not too much for us. It is too much to be them, but it is not too much to look at them. Please look and remember that if that was our little girl (and it is) we would want good-hearted people to draw close and help - not to look away. We will not look away. We will not protect our own hearts: we will work to protect our human family.”
I was wrong to quickly scroll past the image and hope that I didn’t see anymore. I was wrong to ignore the plight of another human being. To choose not to feel.
I know why I quickly scanned past the story. I was afraid of my reaction. I knew what it was going to be.
Without a fault, every time I see an image of a child in pain, injured, in tears, separated from their families, alone or with that numb look on their faces that they have seen and experienced far more than anyone ever should, my heart breaks. I break down. Tears run down my face as I sit in the comfort of my home with the feeling of helplessness lingering on into the day.
What can I, a young woman in Southern California, thousands of miles from the crisis really do? What difference will giving a small amount of money really make? How can I reach out and comfort those children whose tears flash across our newsfeeds?
I feel helpless. I really do. And I think a lot of other people can relate.
So today when I clicked to listen to Glennon’s interview on MarieTV I was shocked to hear her talk about hitting rock bottom and running into our pain headfirst. That pain and heartbreak is part of the beauty of living. That it is something to both lean into, process and run towards - rather than away from. And then to top it off she spoke of The Compassion Collective that focuses specifically on the plight of refugee children and homeless youth in the US. It was as if she were speaking directly to my heart. And then she said this,
“What if heartbreak, what breaks my heart, is not something to be numbed or avoided. What if what breaks my heart is a message to me, is a wake up, a shining arrow that is pointing me directly towards my purpose?”
And I broke.
In the moment after she spoke those words, I broke. The tears returned and I just knew. I just knew I had to do something. So I started writing. I may not know exactly how to tackle this challenge but I do know that I enjoy writing and I have this platform. So I am using it. I am using it today. I am using it to reach out to you - friends and family as well as others I do not know. Because all I know, all I understand as of this moment, is that I have found my heartbreak and I must do something.
So I’ve challenged myself, what if I do choose to rush towards the pain of the world, rather than run away? What change can I truly make? What will happen?
At this point it is hard to know, but I am willing to heed the call and start. So here it is. Here is the first step. And at this moment, at least I know I’m doing something. I’m heartbroken yes, but I no longer feel helpless and that is a vast improvement in itself.
So join me.
Choose to find your heartbreak. To allow yourself to turn towards the things that break your heart. Choose to feel the pain and share with others. To not be afraid to talk about it. To process it. To pray about it. To use your gifts, whatever they may be, to tackle it in the ways only you can. Because you matter. They matter. The world matters. And it is only when each of us steps into our purpose and heartbreak that the world will change for the better.
So choose pain. Choose joy. And choose action.