Sunday, April 12, 2009


"This is just a phase of life. You will grow out of it."

THAT is what people have been telling me, or, more often, suggesting in the way they talk to me. We all go through a phase of wanting to 'change the world,' right? Yeah, we all feel guilty for a short period of time and then realize we are only one person and can't do anything about it so we might as well continue living in our selfish ways because it's just easier. 

Well I think that is crap. 

I went to Atlanta over spring break a few weeks ago. We were serving at a ministry located on the worst street, on the worst block, in the worst neighborhood in the state of Georgia (it has the highest rates of HIV, murder, and crime). We were hanging out with these kids and I spent most of my time with a 6 year old girl named Essence Magnetic. I know, sweet name, right? I helped her with homework and then played soccer with her for a little while. When her mom (who looked to be about 18 years old) came to pick her up, Essence looked at me and said, "Will you stay?" I had to look this precious little girl in the eyes and say, "No, I'm sorry I can't. I have to go home." She started crying as I walked out that door, my own heart aching. 

THAT makes me uncomfortable.

When I was in Los Angeles last summer, we were helping  a family move some stuff out of their "house" one afternoon. It was a family of 5; a mother and 4 kids. They lived in a garage that was approximately 10x10 yards. Their refrigerator and "kitchen" was outside with a tarp as the "roof." There was old food all over the place, junk everywhere...conditions that were not suitable for living. As we walked up to this "house" to begin to help move stuff I looked around and then I looked down to take a sip of the $4 cup of coffee I was drinking.

THAT makes me uncomfortable.

I have a surplus of what I want while others don't even have what they need.

THAT makes me uncomfortable. 

Jesus calls us to love and serve "the least of these." There is a man that digs through the trash outside my house everyday and I have never fed him.

THAT makes me uncomfortable.

I coach a girls soccer team. I watch them lose their innocence of youth more and more each day as they are confused by the pressures and lies the world is telling them about who they 'should' be and what they 'should' do. 

THAT makes me uncomfortable. 

I have friends and family whose hearts are hurting just as badly as the children living on the streets in Atlanta and in similar ways to the homeless person on the corner in Los Angeles. 

THAT makes me uncomfortable. 

As Matthew Sleeth in 'Serve God Save the Planet' writes, "What good will a billion compassionate thoughts do?...To move from thought to action we must feel some discomfort with ourselves...We may think ourselves philanthropic and generous until we see a widow giving away her last two pennies." 

COMFORT DOES NOT RESULT IN CHANGE. I am more afraid of being complacent and comfortable than I am of taking risks. Jesus tells us to "follow Him" and I sure as heck don't want to be standing in the crowd as He walks away. 

This is not a phase. This is life. This is real. I don't ever want to be complacent. It's only a phase if I choose to ignore reality and go back to my selfish bubble. I am not called to be comfortable. I am called to let my heart break for others and to love radically. People are going to continue to tell me that the problems of our world are too big to fix and that I can't help. They will tell me that I will soon grow out of this phase. 

First...I will tell them that they are wrong because we have already won. HE has already won.

Second...I will smile back at them, and then I will bend down to wash their feet.