Caring: What Really Matters

I know, I know. Most of you are really tired of hearing about this transition home. I see it in the barely discernible cringe when I mention Nicaragua one more time. I feel it when everyone around me is sharing “small talk” I can’t seem to identify with. And I get it when yet another person suggests it’ll just take time to get “back to normal.” I’m trying…

But then I read more of David Platt’s Counter Culture, or Ann Voskamp’s post about ISIS and my resolve strengthens. I don’t want to go back to the kind of normal that causes me to believe my car’s current lack-of-AC is anything other than a minor inconvenience (yes, even in the south, even in the summer). Or, for example, that the emptiness of my walls demands I allocate God’s precious resources to filling them before I care for the widows and orphans placed in my path.

I recently took a full-time job (working for someone else) for the first time in a decade. During the interview process, I was repeatedly asked why I would take a job in ministry, working for almost half my previous private sector salary. Well, our family needs health insurance, and the best way for us to obtain it was for one of us to leave freelancing behind. But, my work is primarily in marketing and communications, which means I’m essentially selling something, no matter where I work. The idea of designing ads for shoes full time, for example, leaves me less than inspired. I know I can “do ministry” in any job, but at this point in my life it is my desire to “sell” nothing but the love of Jesus.

The past few years of trying to live out God’s command to care for “the least of these” has broken my heart in ways I never imagined… so much so that I can’t imagine not being heavily involved in this business of caring for others.

My heart’s been broken for orphans, for the poor, for the sick, and for the needy. It’s been broken for moms and dads trying to navigate this thing called parenting, regardless of how the child came into the home. It’s been broken for the messiness of all our lives, and for the great depths from which Jesus came to save us.

Having the opportunity to care for people is never, ever clean, simple, or easy. In fact, it’s exhausting most of the time, and yet strangely refreshing all the same. I’ve come to realize there is something about caring for others that is so captivating, so fulfilling, and so amazing, I can’t seem to stay away. I guess that’s a good thing because:

Caring isn’t a Christian’s sideline hobby.  Caring is a Christian’s complete career. // photo courtesy of Don Bosco

Ann Voskamp goes on to say, “We don’t just care about people — caring about people is our job — the job every single one of us get up to do every single day. That’s it. Caring is our job, our point, our purpose. We’re here to care like a boss.”

I’m ashamed to admit that some of the very people I now call dear friends are those I might previously have avoided… the pain-in-the-necks, the high-maintenance, the drama-friendly (you know who you are! :)). It was only when God brought me through my own messy story (and continues to do so) that I finally started seeing beyond the plastic masks we all try to wear, to see into the beautifully broken hearts beneath the surface and start to care like a boss.

So, while I may not really have a strong interest in your latest hair color (I mean, it’s nice and all, but…), I care—deeply—about your daughter’s silent illness, your husband’s indifference, the loss of your mother, and the fears that sometimes leave you breathless at night.

Yes, I’m wading through my own mess, but that doesn’t preclude me from venturing into yours. It may mean I don’t know what to say or how to respond… which gives us both plenty of chances to practice grace. Because none of us needs to be perfect in order to reach out and help someone else. We just need to be willing.

Ecclesiastes 4:9a: Two are better than one // photo courtesy of Sam Caplat

This is it, folks. This is why we’re here. This is why God gave us life to begin with and then Christ gave up his own to save ours… not for “enjoying the good life,” but rather for us to receive his love and share it with others. No matter what (cue the really painful stories). No matter where (even in those hot, dirty, and undesirable places). No matter when (regardless of what’s on our calendars).

Ann Voskamp quote // photo courtesy of Ben Hosking

I don’t know what situation God has put you in, but I’m guessing he has a purpose greater than just making sure you are happy and comfortable. In fact, if he gave you comfort, I suspect he wants you to share it.

Only you know what that still, small voice of Truth has been whispering to your soul.

Maybe it’s to empower children in Iraq through education,
or support foster care in your town.

Maybe you have a spare room in your house,
a second car you can do without,
or a rainy-day-fund that is actually intended for someone else’s rainy day.

Whatever it is, I pray we join together to become the Church God is calling us to be… the one his Son died for. I’ve seen glimpses of what this looks like and it’s amazing. Now that I’ve experienced it, I don’t ever want settle for “happy and comfortable” again.