Pay Attention to Your Tears

I heard a well-known evangelist’s wife say this one time. She said, “Pay close attention to your tears. Because they lead you to your calling.”

Of course, what she means–what breaks your heart, breaks it for a reason. That’s what God created you to do.

My calling…that’s such a Christian idea. It just means your God-given destiny. I’ve always thought God intended me to be a writer.

My passion has always been music and the path of art in the church at large. I once wrote a mission statement that summarized my vision as a writer. It said something like, “To bring hope and healing to people through the power of the written word, in a way that makes them rethink, reimagine, and reclaim their destinies.”

I think that sums up how I feel about my destiny, my calling, my mission in life. And I was working on it.

But, then I  took this job. It was supposed to be just a job. They are paying me to write for forty hours a week. That was all I really needed to know before I signed on. I would write labels on a soup can if you paid me forty-hours a week to do it.

No, this is news writing. Hardcore politics. Trump. Sean Spicer. Trump. Michael Flynn. Obamacare repeal. Trump’s family. And did I say…Trump? I’m not much of a politico. If you paid me to write about rock stars, I’d be more into it. But, politics…it gets too messy. There’s so much out there, who even knows the truth anymore…But, it’s better than writing the labels of soup cans, and it’s certainly better than standing behind a counter…So, I write about it. It was just supposed to be a job.

And then I got involved. I saw the pictures of the Syrian refugees. I read the stories about how they are walking to Canada through the January snow, hungry and frostbitten. And I cried. I wrote about the Christian response, too. Max Lucado, Bill Hybels and others are protesting against Trump, saying that because of Jesus, they welcome all refugees, Christian, Muslim, whatever. Churches in America are set up to take in refugees.

They took out a full page ad in The Washington Post. I read the ad, and read the editorials. And I tried to write an article about it. And then I cried some more. The. whole. way. through. the. article. I cried and cried, my heart just breaking at the heart of Jesus toward these refugees. Most aren’t terrorists. As a matter of fact, they’re running from terrorists. And they can’t go home. Now, they’re walking to Canada, and Canadian farmers on the border frequently report seeing mud-caked, hungry travelers, poorly dressed for the weather, traipsing through the fields, saying, “Am I in Canada yet?”

That used to be how people how people felt about the United States. I remember when I was a kid, there was this movie called An American Tail. It was about a little Russian mouse, who escapes onto a ship headed to the new world. He meets with the other ship rats, and down in the gulley they dream about what it will be like at the end of the journey. They talk about the stories they’ve heard. In the new world, everything is perfect, and…there are no cats. This is a marvelous idea and the ship rats spend the next four screen minutes dancing about the gulley singing, “There are no cats in America. No cats in America, where the streets are paved with cheese.  America was a place where the impossible happens, and dreams come true.I had such warm fuzzies when I would watch that. People wanted to be us. Not anymore.

Now, weary travelers, utter in hoarse voices, “Am I in Canada yet?”

I think about these people, and how desperate they must have been to walk seven hours in the snow, their fingers freezing off. America is not a place of rest for them. And I wept.

So, what does that say about me, that that was what broke my heart? What do I do with this burden?  I am still pondering that. For a while, I wondered if I should go on some sort of mission trip to help political refugees. But, I doubt I’d be much more help than they’ve already gotten.

I could go to Syria to help, but that wouldn’t do much good. I could go to Canada and get an apartment and take in refugees. But, in all honesty, I could probably do that here, but I wouldn’t for about 5,000 safety reasons. So, why would it be different there? Then, I thought about how I am helping them by writing about it. But, honestly, the stuff I write is basic paycheck stuff. I don’t have the time or resources to do in-depth expose pieces.

So what do I do with this burden? And what does it mean for my life? This is why I learn to shut down the compassion meter. Because I can get so overwhelmed with compassion, and have no outlet for it.









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