The last few days have been somewhere in between...
Here's how I viewed life before God decided to give me a little perspective:
If only ....(fill in the blank). If only I were prettier, had more money, were more successful in Arbonne, were more organized, kept a cleaner home, were a better mom, a better wife..... If only.
Then I was listening to my station of choice, NPR of course. They were doing an interview at an orphanage in Afghanistan. There was a little boy there. His mom had gone for a walk. But didn't return home. She was captured by insurgents threatening to blow her up. And a few days later, they did. They took her to hospital, strapped her to explosives, and used her as a suicide bomber.
Upon hearing the news, the father, who suffered from asthma, had a massive attack triggered by stress, grief, and of course, the Afghan dust. He was rushed to a hospital -- but it was too late. He too died ... leaving this traumatized boy to join the thousands and thousands of children whose lives have been forever altered by horrible and unimaginable violence. He plays well at the orphanage during the day ... but he can't sleep at nights. He misses his mom and dad -- and the life at home he used to have.
Well, that story was enough to bring tears to my eyes -- but God wasn't quite done.
I was reading Reader's Digest (yes, I still like reading this old peoples' magazine) -- and they had an article on a Holocaust death camp. The numbers of people who were gassed makes your mind reel. But one story broke my heart. A woman was carrying her baby with her on the way to the gas chambers (of course, they didn't realize that's where they were headed.) In the mass confusion, a woman dropped her baby. She stopped to pick up her child, but the guards were on it. The started beating her. She cried, and asked if she could please pick up her baby. They said, "We'll take care of your baby." And they picked up the child, and threw the baby into a nearby fire.
"OK, God, I think this is enough heartbreak. I get it...." But he wasn't done yet.
I read a story of a toddler who was in foster care. His mom was a drug addict, and her boyfriend, extremely abusive. He was found wandering around in a parking lot with his 5 siblings, teeth cracked and broken by a recent beating. Just another unwanted child.
Last night, I couldn't sleep. Not cause I wasn't tired -- but because I was thinking about all the kidnapped girls that had been trafficked for sex. These are girls are so precious to God -- yet are used, abused, raped, tortured and sometimes killed. While I lay peacefully in my bed ... they were in stranger's beds, servicing up to 20 men a night. Not because they want to or because they like it. Because someone decided they had no rights, no future, nothing to offer but a PROFIT. So many lives absolutely ruined.
Not only are they victims ... they are misunderstood. When I talk to people about sex trafficking, most don't want to hear about it. "That doesn't happen here, so why should I know about it?" Um... yes it does happen ... to at least 100,000 children every year in America. "Sex trafficking -- honey I'm too old to hear about stuff like that." "I'm too busy ..." "That only happens to kids who are raised wrong." I've heard it all.
By this time last night (or should I say early this morning) -- I was tired of hearing all the bad news. I wanted to just close my eyes to the pain, grief and despair plaguing the least of these. But there was still more....
Today at church, we had a missionary from Asia preach. He told a story. .. "One of the missionaries on our team felt called to the river Ganges to preach to the Muslims gathered there. To cleanse themselves of sin, they wash themselves in the sordid, smelly waters of waste. As the missionary approached the waters, he saw a woman on her face, pounding the ground and wailing. From her weeping, he knew her pain had to be great.
"'Mother,' he asked, 'Your pain must be great. Please tell me what is wrong, and perhaps I can help.' She told him that her husband had TB and could not work. She did not know how to feed her family. She thought that maybe if she offered her most precious sacrifice, the gods might have mercy and provide for her family. '30 minutes ago, I threw my 6 month son into the river,' she confessed through her sobs. He wept with her ... and told her that God had already sacrificed his son so that her sins would be forgiven. 'Where were you 30 minutes ago?' she cried. 'If I had only known, then my son would be alive and with me.' She went home weeping."
Even as I write this, tears stream down my face. I cannot fathom the despair and hopelessness that would cause a mother to sacrifice her own child.
So where does this new perspective leave me?
I'm still trying to figure that out. For starters, I know that I can't do anymore of the "if only...." God has spared my life from so much grief, trauma, loss, violence and hopelessness. He has provided AMPLY for my needs. I have ALWAYS had enough food, known I was loved, loved Christ since I was a child, grew up knowing I would go to heaven, have a wonderful, safe and healthy family.
My gratitude is so great right now. But that is not enough. The grief, the pain, the loss HAS to be addressed. Somehow sending a check to missionaries and ministries isn't enough. Sure, it's something. But I feel God calling me to do something more.
But WHAT? is the question I'm faced with. Pray more? Support more missionaries? Become a foster parent? Adopt from orphanages? Become an advocate for sex-trafficking victims?