Monday, July 11, 2011


As I listened to Amanda’s words, one heartbreaking story after another, something inside me silently cried out, “Please stop. Don’t say any more. This is too much. It hurts too much.” But her words kept coming, just as they should. She sat in front of the group gathered at church, showing pictures and telling stories of the time she spent in Uganda ministering to children. And as heartbreaking as some of the stories were, they need to be told. People need to be aware.

I realized that for me, at least, it is far too easy to insulate myself from the things that are happening in other places in the world. When I come across stories online or on the news, I may pause for a moment and think about how sad a particular situation is, but it is so hard to wrap my mind around. It seems so far away, and so far removed from my daily reality, that it is sometimes hard to imagine that it’s actually real.

But these stories weren’t coming from an online article or a news broadcast. They were coming from someone in my own little world, someone I see on a regular basis, someone who has recently gone to Uganda and has seen these things firsthand. She has held the hands of children whose situations I cannot even begin to comprehend.

And I feel so broken, so shattered inside. What can I do? Can I even do anything that is actually helpful? Will I? Or will I, once again, let it all fade as my attention returns to my normal daily life?
I am the type of person who desperately wants to fix every need I see. I am empathetic and very much a feeler, and stories like the ones I heard absolutely wreck me emotionally. I want to fix things, and I feel so overwhelmed and helpless. It doesn’t help that I have seen a lot of guilt and shame perpetuated within Christian circles when it comes to situations like this, often in well-meaning attempts to get people to do more.

I have a lot of thoughts about feeling helpless and about guilt and shame that I’d like to explore further, but they don’t really belong in this post. I do think they’re strongly related to my tendency to insulate myself so it doesn’t hurt so much, though, which is why I bring them up here. I hope to explore these topics in my next couple of posts.

Until then, I will leave you with this question: When you hear stories that break your heart, do you let the brokenness fade? Why?

1 comment:

  1. I have often wondered why I have been so blessed and fortunate to have been born in the USA instead of a country with poverty and hunger. It is overwhelming to think about all the hurts and natural to want to fix them. It does spur us to action but I think of what Jake Stum said one time from the pulpit. "I can't change the whole world but I can change the world one person at a time." They have adopted 2 children and may be on their way to a third. Basically we do what is in front of us at the time and it's not the same for everybody. Sometimes we can't physically help the situation by our presence but perhaps one day we can support them financially. However we can always pray for the answers and prayer is bigger than most people realize. . . . . . . . . and hopefully those answers I gave are not just standard solutions but they are what has been given to me. If ever our hearts aren't moved by what we see and hear, then we have cause to be concerned about ourselves.