Perhaps you can imagine the romantic feeling to cook over the fire under a glittering canopy of stars. Perhaps you can imagine lounging on grass mats with full bellies next to the fading embers. Or maybe you can imagine the the laughter of children filling the air, the tight hugs and big smiles. Perhaps you could see all the bodies squished together on the benches in the school room absorbing the English language. Or the voices filling the church with a beautiful melody. Or the friendly greetings and snug handshakes.
And yet, I'm struggling to accurately string together all the images, the emotions, the deeper stories, and struggles of the past months into a well polished blog.
My heart is heavy, my mind is full and my thoughts are all tangled.
There is a scene in the film the Rainmaker where young Matt Damon steps into the courtroom and essentially takes on his first case. You hear his thoughts explain that though he studied law, though he knows his books back to front and though he just passed the bar exam, stepping up to the podium felt as if he was just being born.
That's how I feel. About life.
I thought I understood joy.
I thought I knew what it meant to be happy.
I thought I was kind and generous.
I even thought I had begun to unravel my purpose in this life.
The truth is, I thought the way I lived was honorable, and that I was using my time well.
But I feel as though my mind is being awakened to a deeper understanding of life.
Oh how little I know.
I realized I had so many priorities competing for the center stage in my life that were simply meaningless.
I began to notice that what the Western world tells me, rather reminds, reinforces and reassures me to believe is that I should, of course, be living life to please myself.
After all, this life is about me. My fun, My gain, My happiness.
I mean, I deserve it. I've worked hard for this. I've earned at least this much. I want it. I need it. I need to think about me right now. Its my life. Right?
Self-focused. Self-loving. This is the message drilled into us, in many subtle and not so subtle ways.
Do what's best for you, honey.
Though this is not the message I want to live.
Of course, when Jesus says 'love your neighbour as yourself,' he's setting the bar pretty high because he knows how much we naturally favor ourselves. Think about it, the ways we treat ourselves, spoil ourselves, care for ourselves, that's what we are to do unto others. We can't focus only on oureslves.
Because, thinking about self led me to be absorbed in my own tiny world. Greedy and unaware. That's why everything in me now wants to push hard against this self-love movement.
Loving oneself causes nations to be filled with people who strive for things and comforts, and have enough leftovers and garbage to significantly improve the lives of people in the rest of the world.
What my eyes have seen, the brokenness my heart has felt, the glimpse of poverty I've witnessed begs me to reconsider. I, in turn, beg you to reconsider with me.
That maybe this life is not actually only about you nor loving youself.
Maybe our purpose here is not actually for self gain, but to serve others.
Maybe the 1.4 million children in East Africa who are at risk of starvation in the coming months could beg you to reconsider, or the 30 million people experiencing severe hunger today.
I think we've shifted our focus on ourselves and in turn landed in the gutter.
We have thought so deeply about our needs, we have forgotten the needs of the people beside us.
'But wait Lischa, what am I supposed to do about all this?
'Someone with more money can help.
I'm barely able to pay my own school fees.
I have all these bills to pay and children to raise.
And I really want another pair or jeans.
And that burger looks so good.
And maybe i'll stop at starbucks on the way home.'
1 John 3 says,' if someone has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion, how can God's love be in that person? Dear children, let us not merely say we love eachother, let us show the truth by our actions.'
let's dump away our excuses.
let's allow our eyes to focus on the deep need all around us and perhaps stir up some compassion.
let's allow ourselves to experience this love that propells us into action.
Let's pause for a second.
What if I told you every day is a struggle?
What if I told you the majority of people here live without electricity?
What if I told you no one here owns a car?
what if I told you all the little children in this village have worms in their bellies?
what if I told you many people here have lost mothers and sisters in childbirth?
What if I told you many children grow up not knowing their fathers?
What If I told you my friend lost their baby because there are no good hospitals near us?
What if I told you that girls are traded for cows and married in their teens?
What if I told you that people are being killed by crocodiles because they rely on the river water?
What if I told you, that you have more clothes in your laundry basket than they will ever own
What if I told you this is only one village and billions of people live like this? There are 140 million orphans in the world right now and 3 billion people live on $2.50 a day or less; and according to UNICEF 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
Allow those numbers to settle in. Those facts to hit home. Does it stir any passion in your souls? To advocate for others? To think about the needs of another? To help empower or educate others? To provide safe drinking water? To stand up for the overseen? To bring change and hope to the broken?
To realize maybe you do have a little (lot) more than you need. Friends, is life really about SELF? Our needs and our wants? Whats more significant?
Me having all that I want, or others having what they actually need?
Is life meant for catering to self or to live fueled by compassion?
I am only just learning how to live compassionately. How to lay aside my self gain, my desires and seek to serve.
We can use our lives to bless others.
It's all about perspective.
Less self. Less stuff. Less complaints. More love. More grace. More compassion.
Hopefully my tangled thoughts have unraveled into something that also inspires you to serve others and love deeper, to push away the guilt, and strive forward to live a life that has real meaning with an enhanced perspective.
You can start right where you are. Give away some clothes. Take notice of the person sitting alone. Skip the coffee. Support a child. Advocate for the vulnerable.
I also wrote a list of beautiful organizations that are seeking to make change and serve others.
They need voices, they need support and people who are caring:
The Archibald project: advocating for the world orphan crisis
Mwana Villages: supporting vulnerable women and children
Justice Rising: providing education in war zones
Congo Voice: supporting, loving and equipping vulnerable children
Food for the Hungry: providing people with basic human needs
let's change the world's perspective.
'Do not love this world or the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the father in you. For the world only offers a craving for physcial pleasure, a craving for everthing we see and pride in our achievments and posseions.' 1 john 2:15
Dont store up treasures here on earth where moth and rust destroy- for wherever your treasure is there your heart will be also. matt. 6