I’d prefer something a little more explainable.
You know, a story that aligns just right, it makes complete sense to just about every listener, and one would respond simply, “Well, that certainly sounds reasonable.”
Reasonable. Explainable. Correct.
None of those words really describe the path of my life, much less this Ride for Hope I’m doing in a week in East Africa.
You see, I’d prefer to tell you a story about how it all came together in a really clean, factual manner. And most of all, that I wouldn’t have to share my vulnerability.
The compassion. The joy. The heart break. The love.
Those words, the feelings? Ah, so very un-reason-able.
It may sound odd now looking back, but I felt so exposed about it all, I really didn’t want to talk about it. But I mean, c’mon, how can one hide the fact that you’re going to be biking 600 miles around Lake Victoria in East Africa and you have to raise $12,000 in the process?
Seems like at some point the truth had to come out.
The truth? The why?
There was a riot in my heart.
And I gave in. I let myself feel. And feel it all.
A story from Christ’s Hope International
David from Christ’s Hope was sharing at a local networking event about the work being done to support orphans affected by AIDS in sub-Sahara Africa. To be clear, not the first time I’ve heard of this kind of courageous non-profit work. But he leaned in deeper and shared a moving story that had happened recently through one of the CarePoint centers.
They needed to find a home for a young girl that had lost both of her parents. In their model, they don’t place them in orphanages, but instead put the children in relatives’ homes to support them from there.
Problem was, the only living relative of this girl was a prostitute.
A word I’m familiar with. A people that I know. A term that could better be described as, “one who is used up sexually due to her need and loss.”
Her power stripped away, there is only the bait of money that keeps her in the business. There’s no consent; only a survival bribe.
But it never truly pays off. Sure, bills may be paid, but the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual debt is carved deeper and deeper into her soul.
This was not who she was made to be.
Then to add more burden, she now has a child under her roof. Not only may this demand significant extra energy and resources, but the girl herself is now extra vulnerable to the sex industry due to proximity. A potential for disaster.
Can I explain to you how much hope is not present in this situation? When you are a prostitute, that is your life, and the way out seems nearly impossible. We see it all the time at New Name. Which is why we don’t measure results, but instead focus on love. The opposition is real, and the way is hard.
Which is why the next part of the story gripped my heart.
This little girl began attending the CarePoint Center through the non-profit. There she found care for her body, mind, and soul. She grew and developed, and even begin taking her child-like faith with her into all parts of her life.
Including at home. And including into the thoughts and heart of her aunt.
Because when you find peace and joy and love, you can’t hide it. It just overflows.
Over time, day by day, word by word, this aunt heard the story of Jesus and the power of the cross from the lips of child. And there was hope — finally, hope — in that.
Hope that Someone accepted her, saw her, loved her, embraced her.
And he loves her because he loves her because he loves her.
When you live a life of constant misuse, it’s hard to believe that someone would actually love you without you doing anything to for it. It’s free, so very free. So unbelievable. It simply must be miraculous.
This is the part of the story that I want to see in detail someday. The moment that Jesus completely breaks her chains that have bound her to prostitution and set her free. It instantly brought to mind the song Alabaster Box, when CeCe Winans sings about Mary, a former prostitute, breaking her whole life and alabastor box at the feet of Jesus, and testifying to others,
“You weren’t there the night he found me, you did not feel what I felt when he wrapped his loving arms around me. You don’t know the cost of the oil in my alabaster box.”
It was that moment in the story I felt all the emotions at once.
A riot in the soul.
Tears came down my eyes without thought, the weight and miracle of it all was so heavy. We pray for years for some of our women to break out of the life. And now look how God used the testimonial of a little orphaned girl.
Though in reality, she is not little, and not orphaned. She is a daughter of the most high King! And in that place is power, unimaginable power.
That moment of intense inner feeling was immediately followed by, “And we are organizing the Ride for Hope around Lake Victoria in June of 2017. If there are any avid bicyclists out there, we invite you to join!”
At that moment Brian, who was sitting next to me, gives me a knowing look and says, “You doing that?” He knew I was training for the Chicago Triathlon. I immediately retorted, “I am not an avid bicyclist!”
And in that moment I knew I would be joining the team.
(*insert comment, “Well that escalated quickly!”*)
I didn’t realize it would be 600 miles. And I also didn’t totally register the reality I had to raise $12,000.
I just knew that I leaned into feeling my heart, and then did something about it.
And that makes me feel vulnerable. That I can’t really give a better explanation other than, “I cried. And felt so hard it hurt.”
Thank God for Justin Dillon and his recent appearance on the Chasing Justice podcast. Because he puts words to what I’ve wanted to say, but have never been able to describe when I’m trying to process through those intense heart riots I get every once in a while:
This feeling, while it’s not accomplishing something in the world, is accomplishing something in me. But this feeling is also a currency, and yet I don’t know where to spend it. It’s crazy when we have these intense feelings to change the world and we don’t know where to spend that currency. If we don’t spend it on something, that’s when it starts to create a debt in our soul. It creates a callousness and cynicism. Because we were made to fight injustice. That feeling came from the infinite and touched by our finite.
Yes. Yes it’s all true. The more I internalize the deepest feelings I experience, the more callous I become. I’ve felt that tension, because it’s also pretty uncomfortable to act out on those desires. But it sure does give me more joy.
Justin continues on to talk about our culture of “giving back.”
Giving back is saying, “I’m good. I’ve got enough. I’m going to give a little bit back.” But I don’t like what it’s saying about us. It’s void of meaning. Really what the world needs is not giving back, but giving in. It’s realizing, “There’s something in me greater than what’s against others.”
Giving in. It’s not pushing away the feelings. It’s giving in to them. And being ok with what it may cause you do to.
Because love makes you do crazy things. And often they don’t have logical explanations outside of, “I just really cared.”
But that, my friends, is the most logical, and most fulfilling, way to live life.
Crazy is normal to the wholehearted person.
Would you consider supporting me on for the Ride for Hope?
We are raising funds through the end of June 2017. Every little bit helps!