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.


Remaining Authentic

I am sitting. Arms wrapped around my sandy knees. The smell of salt, sunscreen and ocean tingle my nose. I can feel my body press into the beach towel below me, and the sand below that. 


I’m taking a break from the heat, sitting under the shade of an umbrella, watching friends play beach volleyball on the two courts in front of me.


There are people all around us. I can hear music playing from at least three different directions, including from one of our courts.


Everywhere I look there are tanned bodies standing at the ready waiting for another chance to hit the volleyball as it flies over the net and gets returned, to eventually hit the sand to shouts of both glee and dismay.


Its another Saturday afternoon and I am once again at my normal stomping grounds - the beach volleyball courts.


It’s amazing to think back and realize I only just joined this group a few months ago and many of my now friends were strangers just a few weeks ago.


I’m sitting in what I would call “my happy place”. I’m doing something I love and I know it. When I am at the courts I feel like I belong, like this is where I should be spending my Saturday.


I am outside, on the beach, with friends, laughing and talking in the sun, getting a tan and getting exercise (which I barely notice most days). This is my heaven. This is me being authentic to who I am, what I want and what makes me happy.


So when I walk away, saying my goodbyes, as the sun dips below the horizon, I glance behind me at the now empty nets standing in silent tribute to the chaos earlier in the day and I know that something is wrong.


The way I feel about volleyball is not the way I feel about the rest of my life. 


Something is off, and I know it.


It’s a gut feeling. A tug. A sense of unbalance. A sense of discontentment.


Remaining authentic to myself is hard.


To the outsider, my life looks great. I’m living in what has to be one of the most beautiful towns in the States, in a cute house, with an awesome roommate. I have a busy social life and active church life. I’m even working a full time job with cushy benefits.


Nothing is wrong with it. In fact, all of it is good, if not very good.


Yet something is amiss. At the gut level I know this without a shadow of a doubt.


So what is going on?


Some people may consider me to be the type that is too sensitive or too pensive. The kind of person who spends too much time in her head. A dreamer…


But is that a bad thing?


See the way I look at it is, we have one shot at life. Everyday is one day less. Every hour is an hour spent of this precious life. Personally, I want to use it to my utmost best ability. I want to take risks and live a life free of regrets. I want to follow my heart and calling.


And I know that where I am now is not it. I can feel my soul crying out to me to take a step, to make a change, to do something different - and I’m frustrated because I feel stuck. Stuck where I am. Stuck among the expectations of friends and family. And stuck in a spot that no one seems to really understand, no matter how hard I try to explain.


This struggle to be authentic remains.


And it’s hard.


Do I know what to do? Not really.


Right now I feel like I am waiting for something to change. For God to meet me and make those next steps clear. For some plan to materialize for the foreseeable future. 


But as of now, it remains a hazy picture.


So I continue. I press on with the feelings of discontent. Exploring different options but not making any decisions yet.


I know I won’t last much longer without something changing, but at the same time I don’t know what to do next. So I wait.


And waiting is hard.


I’m searching for that sense of purpose and belonging in my entire life, not just one aspect of it. This is something I continue to seek with full honesty and heart.


When I find it, I will know.


I found it last year when I worked alongside the Once in Cape Town team in South Africa, until my visa pulled me away.


So I know what it should feel like - and it's just not here in this current moment yet.


So while I wait, I continue to search, read, discover, dream and press on through the day to day.


Because I know that to remain authentic to myself is one of the most important things I am striving for and I will continue to fight for it no longer how long it takes to find again.


Have you struggled with remaining authentic? What did you do? Have you had seasons of waiting? How did you get through it?