We’ve been over this. I don’t sleep. Last night I got a new oil that is said to have powers to keep you asleep once you fall there. It smells like grass. Some foreign grass one might find in Asia. I’m torn between two worlds: the man do I love sleep world and man do I dislike the smell of grass in Asia as I imagine it. But at the end of it all, I put a couple drops on my pillow and got a solid 5.5 hours of sleep. Not even a lot of tossing a turning.
This could be a fluke. I always sleep better on Fridays. And why wouldn’t I? My brain is fried between holding down my position as a teacher and leading the troop I call the Brew Crew.
On the other hand, Saturday is a big night. Tossing and turning would make sense. I get to emcee Awaken’s 4th annual fundraising banquet. It’s sold out. My belly is at peace, but my mind is a jumble. I was focused and full of peace. And then terrorists came to Paris.
Now my heart is unsettled which always gets me thinking which always wakes me up. What a web.
It’s so easy for me to stay unattached to traumatic situations. It’s safe to say I fall somewhere in the spectrum of having an attachment disorder. There’s been no clinical diagnosis, but I’ve been through enough training to help kids through it, and I know the hand I was dealt. Knowing this about myself, it’s easy to understand when I don’t engage the same way others do. But it’s not acceptable. I don’t accept it.
If we strive to be the remnant of hope here on earth by pointing to Christ then we are to strive to hurt over the things that hurt Him. This is so counterintuitive. Place ourselves in harm’s way? Lay our heart out where the pain is? Open our fists and sit by with palms wide open?this goes against my grain. I’ve mastered a life of keeping people just where I want them.
I can love Jesus and care for people and keep all my emotions in order without ever being vulnerable. Until I come to realize that’s not truth. That’s a coping mechanism. It’s a fleece thrown over my eyes that has slowly been thinning. The opaque takes on the sheer.
Every morning I pray that my eyes would be open to see the people around me. And suddenly I’m understanding that this isn’t his way. Instead, he’s attempting to do that thing- that bit where he prunes and shakes and lovingly squeezes- where he pours a concentrated dose of love right down into my grinch of a heart and makes it swell to three times its usual size. That way he has about making me soften at the edges and dare to trust his kindness. That way he has of convincing us that we can wrap our hearts around the hurt in Paris and know we will walk out the other side still in tact. Maybe even a little bit stronger.
I don’t know how he does it. But I know it’s his grace. The minutes I move from “everything is a trigger threatening my calm” to “I am willing to care about what you care about”. I want to trust in his kindness enough to jump on the back of compassion and ride it like the pony I should have owned.
I have practical steps to get better at this. Awaken is a an anti trafficking organization for local guys and girls here in Reno. I am mostly the writer and social media girl for the organization, but I’ve also connected with some of the girls we work with. Rather than keep them at arm’s length and attempt to force sympathy, I think of their stories. I picture what their heart felt like at each section. How their moms and dads felt during that time. How others looked at them and knew they were hurting but maybe didn’t know why or how or what they were really doing.
So often at my work as a teacher, I come across a kid who seems loud and rebellious and in your face. Yesterday one such girl was giving her teacher an especially hard time. This girl is a button pusher. She has more than mastered the talent of I hurt you before you hurt me. She yells and teases and swears like a pro. She instigates and stirs up girl drama. So I put myself in her shoes.
For a few minutes I stopped and asked, “what’s really going on here?” And then I really watched her. She has no friends. When I ask her about family and what she did last night or how she gets along with her mom, she changes the subject smoothly but immediately. She’s never answered. So I put myself in her shoes.
And my heart aches. It squeezes and hurts and aches and wakes me up in the middle of the night to pray for these girls: the ones already working the streets and the ones at risk.
And then, at 3:30 in the morning, this is when I start to realize that God doesn’t want me to open my eyes. I see plenty. He wants me to open my heart. And he knows I’m not at all up for this challenge. Not at all. I will never have compassion enough for others. Part because I’ve been damaged and don’t trust yet and part because love is a fruit only the Holy Spirit can perfect in me. My only job is to let him.