Rushing Towards The Pain

“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.



Time To Readjust The Sails



Where do I start?


It seems confusion, failure, new beginnings and change are the major themes of my twenties thus far.


Once again, I am faced with a new beginning and a lesson learned.


Its amazing how much one person (myself) can seemingly stumble their way through life. 


When I was young I thought I would have it figured out when I got 'older'. Then when I was in high school I thought I would finally have it all figured out in college. Then when I was in college I thought that as soon as I reached the working world, things would magically fall into place. And then when I was young and naive to the world as an independent adult, I thought when I was in my mid-twenties, I would most definitely have it together. And now - after all of my life experiences including living overseas and trying a myriad of jobs - I still don’t have it figured out. And regardless of how ridiculous it may be, I secretly dream about having life figured out by my late twenties or early thirties. 


But will I? Will I really? I seriously doubt it.


So maybe this is what life is about, right? 


Stumbling from failure to failure. Serendipitously finding your way into new opportunities and discovering new passions. Trying something new only for it to only halfway work - you like that part, but not that one - time to readjust the sails AGAIN.


I mean seriously, what. is. it. about. life.? 


Why can’t I just have it all figured out?!


Why? (as I often scream at God in frustration)


…But what if…


What if this IS what life is about?


What if the messes and stumbles and seemingly random encounters with new people and opportunities are what it IS all about? What if THIS MESS is it?


Well, hmmm, that certainly changes things a bit.


While I was away this past week (on a family vacation, no less) I stumbled across a famous quote of Winston Churchill,


“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”


So if I stay enthusiastic in the midst of the mess, does that make me successful?




Really?! Life for real, for real?


I would like to think so. 


Because no matter how messy a situation can be - everything is a lesson. And if not a positive lesson - it can be one that shows you what doesn't work.


And if you ask me, that is just as valuable if not more valuable than a positive lesson.


Think about an inventor. 


Any inventor will fail hundreds, if not thousands or millions of times before finding something that works. Thomas Edison once said, 


"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."


Why should our lives be any different?


We are each beautiful pieces of artwork in progress. We are all on a journey called life. God is working in each one of us to create something beautiful and to fulfill a purpose. But in that journey comes mistakes, stumbles, growing pains, joys, beauty, love and hurt. The journey includes it all. So we should expect that while we are being worked on the potters wheel like clay, that there will come times where things collapse, where we have to start over and rebuild. But each new beginning adds its own marking, making us all beautiful in our own unique ways.


So maybe, rather than focusing on 'getting it all together' and having life 'figured out', we should have patience with ourselves and the bumps in the road and instead focus on the beautiful journey called life.


Because when we each reach our individual ends of the path, it won't be a matter of whether we had it 'all figured out'. Rather, what will really matter is whether we lived life fully through the ups and the downs.


And I choose to live.


The Art of Making Mistakes

“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” - Steve Maraboli


It’s early morning. As I sit on my front porch, with hot coffee warming my hands, I know.


I know that once again I’ve made a mistake.


Another one. 


If I could, I would yell and scream at myself in frustration.


Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I seem to figure it out? Why don’t I ever learn?


I close my eyes shut with frustration.


Another mistake - another lesson learned.


Why can’t I just get this right?


I mean my career - my purpose - have always been in the forefront of my mind. Dominating my decisions, my activities, where I go and what I do. It’s not like this is something I take lightly. Rather I take this rather seriously. So why do I keep screwing it up?!


An exasperated gasp escapes my lips. 


At least I’m willing to recognize the mistake, I tell myself.


This offers little consolation.


I can think of a number of reasons for this latest mistake; expectations, fear, desire for stability, along with others…


But why does it keep happening? Why does it feel like I’m just bumping along from mistake to mistake?


Well it turns out, I soon realize, that I’m just looking at it all wrong. Rather than consider every mistake a problem, I should alter my perspective.


Mistakes are learning opportunities. A chance to redefine yourself and discover what it is that makes you, you - and to create the life you want.


A chance to cut off the pieces that you know don’t work and cultivate the pieces you’ve discovered that do - and focus on those.


As H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah said, “Making mistakes is the art of discovery!”


So although it may seem like I’m just bumping along, I may have it all wrong. Rather, it turns out that these mistakes might just be what is directing me towards that “thing” that is right. That will make me come alive, in all the best ways.


In fact, when thinking back, that is exactly how a number of positive experiences have happened - as a result of mistakes.


I wouldn’t have ended up working at a hostel if I hadn’t left my job just a few months before and was looking for a creative way to cut down my living costs in Cape Town. And if I didn’t apply to that job, I would never have discovered my fiery passion for the youth tourism industry and seen first hand how it can positively change the lives of both staff and visitors.


So ultimately, it was a positive mistake. It was a step forward, not a step back.


Yes it was painful. Yes the transition was hard. And yes, I had absolutely no idea I would fall so hard - especially because I thought that I had found the job position of my dreams. 


Turned out I was wrong - and what I thought I wanted, wasn’t actually the best thing for me.


I would have never known that had I not tried to give it a shot. And I could possibly still be working towards that now if I hadn’t jumped in with both feet forward.


So in hindsight, the full committal to nearly a complete failure was a good thing, and it directed me towards where I want to go now.


So now that I find myself, once again, in a place where things aren't quite right, at least I know that I gave this particular lifestyle and job (different from what I have done previously) a shot - and in the process have discovered new aspects of what I like and what I do not.


Which ultimately directs my next steps.


So in the end, I guess I should look at making mistakes as an art, because that is really all it is.


Mistakes are failing forward and onwards to better things.


Because ultimately life is not without mistakes and failure. Rather it is full of it. Both large and small. So what you do with it is what matters - more than anything else.


So what is it for you? How have your mistakes allowed you to fall forward?