An Empty Space for Love

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I just watched a short video about what one group of people is doing to transform their neighborhood and bring the sunshine of Jesus’ love to a dark, hopeless place.  It brought tears to my eyes and laid yet another stone in the foundation being laid in my own heart.  And yet there was an anger that rose up in me . . . a frustration.  It wasn’t new; in fact, it’s very old, but until today I could not really identify its origin.

Bob Goff’s “Jesus Does” also fed those tears and anger.  They welled up so strong in me it was frightening.  My heart was shredded, my tear ducts emptied, and my soul at once satisfied and empty.  I had no words to describe what I was feeling, much to the disappointment of my husband.  He loves to hear me pour out my heart, but the words wouldn’t come.

This foundation that has been in the process of coming together in me has much to do with social justice, what real Christian love looks like, putting feet to our faith.  But the missing element – the source of the frustration in my own soul, the anger that stirs my emotions – is the lack of connectedness that would enable all to participate.  Perhaps others feel it, too, so I will try to give voice to it.

I do several things that connect me to the larger world.  I make small loans through Kiva, helping entrepreneurs around the world to build their businesses, take care of their families, and grow their communities.  I sponsor several children in Uganda, helping to secure for them at least a shot at becoming what they were created to be.  I give to clothes, shoes, household good, books – anything at all – to thrift stores and free stores, because I know that what I don’t need can be useful to someone else.  On Facebook, I post stories and pictures that illustrate social justice issues.  I share posts from ministries and groups who are doing good work, so that others can be aware of them and perhaps be inspired to participate.  I purposely make attempts to connect with the larger world, but right here in my own little world, I feel terribly disconnected.

To the poor and disenfranchised where I live, I’m just a nice lady who drops stuff off every once in a while.  Perhaps they think I’m a well-off lady who gives money sometimes to help out.  But I don’t fit in.  I’m not a real part of anything.  And I don’t know how to be.  The truth is, I don’t fit in.  I thought that was the point, though . . . to take the disenfranchised and somehow reintegrate them into society . . . to plug them in so that they can experience the joy of giving as well as receiving, and so that we can all benefit from their gifts, from their unique presence.  If I don’t fit in, aren’t I disenfranchised now . . . ?

I don’t want to live alone in my comfortable world.  I don’t want to drop by with ‘help’ every once and a while or volunteer ‘out there’ then go back to my reality.  I want my reality to change.  I guess that’s what’s so attractive to me about the way some Christians have chosen to live their lives.  They don’t float back and forth between two worlds that never really touch each other.  They imagine a different world, then work to create it little by little.  They build community gardens.  They take care of each other.  They make sure no one is hungry or thirsty or without clothing or shelter.  They have created community.

No one is making sure I have what I need.  They assume that I do, because my family functions well in society.  We have good jobs, plenty of food and clothes, etc.  So we live in our house, interacting with people through work, through school, and the occasional conversation with a friend.  And I look through the windows of my life, the windows of books and my computer, and see a big, beautiful world loved by God, and I see all the heartache and pain that has been wrought, and my heart longs to be one of the instruments of healing.  So I do what I can, but . . . at the end of the day, I am still very much alone.

Something is wrong.  As much as my soul cries out over issues of social justice, there is another issue that separates people.  We all know that there is a deep divide between what some call the “haves” and the “have nots”.  However that divide was created, both sides must work to eradicate it.  I don’t want to drive over from the “haves” side, bringing gifts to the “have not” side, then drive back home where it’s safe.  I want to walk out into the empty space between us and pitch a tent.  Build a fire.  Plant a garden.  I want to imagine something new – a world without labels.  Because we all need to belong.

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