Sometimes, I feel like a failure. Like I’ve failed God. Failed humankind. Failed my job. I’ve been a people pleaser my whole life and it has caused me much harm. But what I’ve learned is that you can’t focus on pleasing people. You can’t help everyone. You can’t hold that weight. You were never intended to. You must only focus on pleasing and serving God.
Some days I want to throw in the towel…but don’t get me wrong, I love my job here. I love this ministry, and I love living in Haiti. I am nowhere near the “burnt out” stage, but some days I feel beaten, hard pressed, overwhelmed, mentally exhausted, and ready for a day off...or two. That is normal. No one said following a crucified Savior would be rainbows and flowers.
When these days come I catch myself feeling like I should have just stuck with being a waitress. I was good at that. I could handle that. I could see the issue like an empty glass and go fill it with tea. No confusion, no contemplating whether I’m helping while hurting, no strain on the amount of empty glasses I’m trying to fill. It was like riding a bike. Easy. No curveballs. No cultural difference, no voodoo, no malnourishment, no injustice. (Until you get the crazy customer that you can’t seem to please…but that’s another story.)
If I stuck with my past life, I wouldn’t be on the front lines of poverty and depression. I wouldn’t have to see mamas walk away after me saying I don’t have any job openings and then feeling like all the pressure is on my shoulders of what will happen next. Give away her kids or her body to earn a little money? Sleep on the streets? I wouldn’t have to feel the “what ifs” in helping - is this hand out helping or hurting? Is it helping the right now but hurting the future? Is the way I’m going about this causing dependency or lifting others up to become leaders? Is it taking the time to ask what would Jesus do, or just going with the flow, with what everyone else is doing to keep the ease?
If I went back to my life before Haiti I wouldn’t see hungry or sick kids around every corner and I wouldn’t be overwhelmed and worried that if I do one little thing wrong, it might be considered rude in a culture not my own. Having lost a child before, the trauma comes back every time someone comes to me and asks for help. “I don’t know how to help” I want to say. I haven’t figured life out. I don't know the best way to help. I don’t know how to make my toddlers stop throwing temper tantrums. I don’t know how to trust a hospital to save a life and then carry that dead body home in my arms, feeling like it must have been my fault somehow even though the child was born with the disease. I must of failed this child somehow right? I tried and failed. I don’t know how to beat poverty at its core so that it can’t keep drowning my neighbors and I.
Sometimes, I am just tired of trying. Sometimes, I’m too scared to keep trying in fear that I’ll hurt, not help in the process. Being tired of seeing death and pain and heartache and poverty every single day can really take a toll on one’s body.
So, I took my thoughts to the Lord. I wanted to dig deep into why I feel like all the world’s pain and injustice weighs heavily on my shoulders and how to find peace in being enough, doing enough, trying enough. I wanted to get to the bottom of why I worry about how to help more than just getting out there and helping the best way I know how.
The word that came to my mind was *tactics*
The devil has tactics that he uses to sneak up on his prey. He knows my weaknesses and he knows how to use them. He knows my fears and knows how to scare them.
So on days that I feel overwhelmed, unqualified, or like a failure…I know its him. Trying to get in my head. Trying to make me feel like I’m not good enough to accomplish the job the Lord has given to me. Trying to make me feel like I fail at helping people and forget my mission is only to serve God. He wants me to question my calling and my strengths. He wants me to question my faith and he loves when I grow weary in serving God. He loves when I cringe at the knocks on the gate knowing I cringe at the thought of trying to help one more person when some days I can't even figure out how to help myself. He loves when I grow weary in helping the sick, the lonely, the hungry, the poor. He loves when I see others doing it differently and question if my ways are wrong. He loves when I want to run away over the rainbow to a land with no poverty...at least not in my path.
But when I look at the child attached to my hip and wonder why she loves me so much, why she puts so much confidence in me, why she runs to me when she’s scared, sick, or happy, I am reminded. I see her smile, I hear her laugh and I have to remind myself that it’ll all be ok. When I see 31 employees come to work and encourage me on how to help and how to serve in this developing country and how to love no matter the cost, I am reminded. The world is grey. Nothing is black or white. There are so many different ways to see the pain in front of us. There are so many different ways to handle the problem in front of us. There are so many different ways to help the poor help themselves. There are so many different ways to do ministry. Missionaries are the first to tell each other how to do it or how not to do it. And though it seems like there is always tension between ministries on who is doing it the right way for the best longterm outcome, and who is not, I’m reminded that we can not let the devil and his tactics distract us from helping. Sometimes we might hurt in the process. Something we might help. We are all learning. We are doing the best we can with the mental capacity we have and the resources we’ve been given. We are not failures. We may not see everything through the same lens but we over here are doing the best we can with hearts open to be educated and learn more. We’re doing the best we can given the circumstances of life on this island. Sometimes we give the hand out, sometimes we give the job before the handout, sometimes we have to just say no and walk away. Every circumstance is different.
Life in a developing country is hard. It is tiring. But, if we let the devil in, we will forget while we are here. We will forget whom we are serving over here. We will let his tactics overcome our minds and hearts and cause us to want to throw in the towel. But we can’t because God has given us a mission to do and that’s to serve Him wherever He places us.
I must remember that I am where He wants me and He will never leave my side. I must find joy in the trial and errors and be encouraged by the mountains this life makes me climb. That is all God wants- to know that we will serve Him no matter the cost. He wants to know we are willing to help and love His children even if it hurts, even if we don’t know the best way how. He wants to know that we still trust Him to show us the way, the path to understanding Him more and more. He wants to know we are willing. So today, you and I, let’s serve our King to the best of our ability and not let the devil in. Let’s love how we know how. Let’s live how we know how. Let’s focus on Jesus and not the world. Let’s do the best we can in loving His people whether as a cashier, or a bank teller, a farmer or a manager a missionary or a teacher. We can love God’s people. We can teach and be taught every day through each other.
Let’s love. Even if it hurts.
“the longer she follows Jesus, the more her trembling steps have turned into a walk of confidence. She has no reason to fear, because she knows the One who goes before her.” – her true worth