I wrote this out recently during a rough patch. I want to revisit it sometimes, because I think that these are just a few of the traps people can fall into who step into (or are thrust into) tough battles with tough things.
I remember when I started trying to organize Feed My Starving Children events and we had a dear friend who was very, very concerned for me trying to take on “nonprofit stuff” because of people he knew that had tried to do do-goody things and had become quite jaded and cynical from the attempts. I know foster and adoptive parents who struggle with these things; I mean, mostly just because we all do. Or people who work in hunger relief or orphan care or refugee ministry or even church ministry or PBT-type Christian nonprofiting, etc.
I recognize that I have 3 choices:
- Stay away from difficult or uncomfortable things, just look out for me, try to be happy, ignore things I know about injustice in the world (*Spoiler Alert* – the ending of this road is mostly unnoticed, unheralded, uneventful, pointless)
- Face the dark stuff and be beaten down by it (*Spoiler Alert* – The ending of this road is cranky, isolated, despairing, hopeless, self-righteous, ineffective)
- Face the dark stuff and become more gracious, more grateful, more peaceful, more joyful, and better at loving because I am doing what God made me to do. (*Spoiler Alert* – The ending of this life is ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, you have run the race and finished strong, you have done my work and I am proud of you. Oh and also a BUNCH of people are probably going to miss you and be glad, for the rest of their lives, that you lived.’)
I wrote this, and I want to keep saying it, whenever I need to. Because these things isolate, and they break down. They do not connect people, and they do not build up.
Here goes – to the dragons I face sometimes:
Don’t make me bitter.
Don’t make me cynical.
Don’t make me a victim and a martyr.
Don’t make me sabotage my marriage by taking things out on the closest, easiest person.
Don’t make me hold grudges and feel wronged.
Don’t make me envious of other people’s families.
Don’t make me hopeless.
Don’t make me short-tempered.
Don’t make me only aspire to not-crappy, and settle for not-awful.
Don’t make me judgmental and self-righteous.
Don’t make me have a savior complex and think that the only people doing anything worthwhile are the people doing what I’m doing.
Don’t make me think nobody else knows anything useful for me because they aren’t living my life.
Don’t make me clock-watch until this phase or that phase of my life is done and I can get to something better.
Don’t make me so neurotic that I get angry about generous gifts from people trying to help, because they’re not exactly right, thinking they do more harm than good.
Don’t make me even angrier at myself when I mishandle things than I am about the things that drove me to it in the first place.
Don’t make me alcoholic (or even chocoholic or foodaholic or coffeeholic).
Don’t MAKE me.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it does not get angry.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Everything falls away except love.