Wednesday, April 2, 2014

the heart

I have a deep-seated need to find purpose and meaning in what I do. Whether it's folding clothes (all day, e'ery day!) or sharing stories of a village in African in desperate need of clean water, a sense of purpose brings my heart such joy and satisfaction that I would hate to imagine spending my time just punching a time clock or doing paperwork for a company in which I don't identify or find some sort of meaning.

Some of you are doing these last two things; I realize this. I have done it, too, and there is nothing wrong with it. My need for intense purpose is a weird personality quirk/character flaw I'm working through, and I totally respect you and your hard work in your job. Furthermore, I'm thrilled to say that "punching a time clock" at a PR company long ago gave me skills, desires, and practice to get me closer to a calling I hadn't yet discovered. Take heart!

My heart has always been pulled in multiple directions. In college, I am pretty sure I declared four different majors, graduated with two, then worked in PR and returned to school to become a teacher. Nice.

In fact, my heart is pulled in so many directions that I'm not sure where I would follow it if I were to follow the world's advice to "Follow your heart." Or, to put it better in the song of Lady Antebellum: "Let your heart, sweetheart, be your compass when you're lost and you should follow it wherever it may go." (Catchy song--and I love it--but sometimes it's not that simple, people. If only life were a catchy singalong melody where people randomly joined in with a banjo and a few collective claps and "heys.")

And maybe I shouldn't follow my heart; it's not always been a great compass. After all, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" and "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." (Lamentations 17:9 and Matthew 15:19) 


However, I also know that God turns hearts, and I think he's turning mine in a few very distinct directions. (So maybe it is like a compass...does this make Lady A biblical?! I kid.)

My heart has been turned toward certain convictions. It bleeds for the hurts of the broken and defenseless, and it wants to speak up for those who cannot.Many causes are important, and I find such extreme joy in helping (or at least trying to help) in those situations that I want to spend my time and energy trying to fix them. ALL of them.

However, I do not assume or expect that others feel the same or share the same enthusiasm for the same things I do. As a preliminary example, I have a deep desire for chocolate, and I will spend a great deal of time and energy eating it because I think it's awesome and worth it.

But some of you weirdos don't understand that desire. And that's ok.

Let's take another example: My heart leaps for adoption. I could talk about it all day long; a large feat for someone who admittedly dislikes talking. Adoption has changed my life in more ways than one, and it's hard for me to understand where others are so resolutely against it.

But I don't expect everyone to adopt. Our friends once told Brad and I that adoptive parents have sometimes made them feel guilty for having biological children, and not adopting. I never want anyone to feel that way. I don't even want anyone to feel guilty for not supporting us financially in our adoption. It was our decision to adopt, and while we know we were called to it and God will provide through it (using others to do so as He desires), we do not expect that our friends and family provide for us, because they didn't make the decision to adopt; we did. After all, other people are called to other things.

How about another example: My heart beats for orphan care. I've read too many awful stories of children who have lost both parents, then their siblings, then were nearly starved in an orphanage deep in the jungle because no one was around to help. This happens thousands of times over and over again, and for the longest time I was absolutely blind to it. But now I know, and I can't help but be passionate about it.

But I don't expect everyone else to be passionate about it.

Take another example of : Pregnancy Care Center support. As someone who has felt just the slightest sting of empty arms, supporting an organization that empowers women facing unexpected pregnancies to choose life--amazing, miraculous life--has helped me heal from some of the hurts of loss.

But I don't expect everyone else to be passionate about it. After all, I was everyone else once, too, and I am currently "everyone else" in a lot of different categories. Need examples of this? Supreme pet love, animal rights, steak love, sports on TV, Paleo diets, and Nerium. (I don't 'get' these, but others do. I think that's ok.)

I'm also passionate about fitness and family preservation and preventing child hunger and access to clean water and serving a great God with amazing plans.

After all, these causes are all very personal to me. But they might be lost on others, and that is okay.

We don't give to all of the causes I mentioned above. We don't even give money to all of the causes I share on Facebook or mention on the blog. I wholeheartedly wish we could do that, but we've chosen just a few things we can support financially (which automatically has to include school fundraisers for our students and family; and even then, we sometimes say no).

Therefore, I certainly don't expect people who read this or my Facebook posts to give to all of the things I support (financially or otherwise), our adoption, or things I share on the blog. We don't expect anyone to give anything to any of the causes, for that matter.

The last thing I want as a result of this blog is for people to feel guilty or obligated to give when they read. I never want anyone to feel like they should run from me or this blog because of the guilt they might feel when I share information or hurts based on something that's going on (such as dysentery tragedies in DRC, education in Kenya, and foster care needs right where we are...more on this later).

In other words, I'm not a salesperson, offering up products I want you to buy or opportunities in which I think you should be involved. Do I want you to be involved in these things? Of course, but only because I've seen such amazing things come out of opening my eyes to bigger issues. But don't ever mistake me for a salesperson--I never could be--and I never expect your involvement.

Shoot, I don't even want people to feel obligated to read the blog.

So why do I share a lot of articles, opinions, and information here and on Facebook? I share them because I think they are important--so important that they change lives--and I share them so can join the cause if they so choose. As an educator, I truly believe knowledge is power, so I write to inform. Just one person who becomes a foster parent, respite care provider, adoptive parent, donor for clean water, or anything else has the potential to change hundreds of lives directly, and thousands of lives generationally.

But if that person isn't you--if you have other things on your heart that don't involve any of the things about which I write--do those things!

Lastly, my heart is to encourage others through this blog. While I know that not all of my posts are encouraging (take last week's post, for example), I think some people can take heart in knowing that they're not alone in some of their struggles.

(PS I just like this song.)

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