Some wounds are not meant to heal in this lifetime...But that pain means I have love to give.
I used to call myself a missionary.
I went on my first short mission trip of ten days when I was 15. Through high school and college I went on plenty of mission trips…Mexico, Guyana, Haiti several times. I was even more idealistic then than I am now. I had passion and energy to burn. It was nothing for me to wake up at five or six every morning, go for a run through the streets of Port-Au-Prince, and then spend the day managing a class of rough and rowdy kids. I loved it.
Quite simply, I thought I could save the world.
Maybe that’s why I moved to the Middle East. I know you’re probably laughing at that. Go ahead.
Somewhere along the way, however, I stopped thinking I had so much to give. Maybe teaching English to so many spoiled, unmotivated students burned me out. Maybe becoming a mother exhausted me. Maybe I just grew older and wiser and thus not so optimistic. In any case, at some point I decided it was time for some self care. “The world is too big and I just don’t have anything more to give,” I remember thinking.
There was some freedom in giving up responsibility to save the world, and I do think that life made me wiser, but my heart was empty and cracked. I had seen too much of the world’s evil and took it all too personally. So I gave up on giving. My cracks needed mending.
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Some credit Confucius with that quote, but I don’t know. Whoever said it, I have found it to be true. Friends and teachers came into my life and loved me in spite of my cynicism and self centeredness. They cared for me in my bitterness. Their acceptance was humbling.
For years I did nothing but receive from them and let them care for me. I offered little, if anything, in return. Yet they continued to give and I continued to wonder why and ask myself if I would ever feel healed enough to give in return.
Fast forward to the present. All my tiring travels have lead me back home. Still cracked.
Last week, desperate for direction, Ray and I decided to fast. Years of Ramadans have taught me a thing or two about fasting. For reasons that I can’t fully explain, fasting always brings me clarity. I was hoping for some concrete answers from above as to what the hell we’re doing here. I got something else instead…
My worries and doubts disappeared and I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization of all I have been given, not just in our transition back into the States but through all the past few years of feeling like I’ve had nothing left to give. I saw the guidance, the divine provision. I saw the unplanned connections, the quiet, common baring of souls that, over time, had filled in my emptiness without my even realizing it. I saw how much I have to give.
I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, but my fast revealed to me the fullness of my own heart. Yes, as I said above, I have returned home still wounded. But I finally understand that my cracks may not all need healing. They are the openings through which I can give.
Some wounds are not meant to heal in this lifetime. I will always ache for the orphans, the outcasts, the abused. But that pain means I have love to give.
“Hold this heart in Your bloody hands
Until it pumps Your blood.
Hold this life Your broken heart
Until it flows with Love.”
Lines I wrote years ago when the missionary in me was still alive and well. My own prayer that has taken years to understand. But I do understand, so very well now. My heart is beating with pain and love, inseparable. The missionary is back.