Where to start.
A tiny, frigid room full of 60+ babies and their foster parents… some fat and chunky, some not. Some smiling and happy, some not. I know we’re making a difference, but sometimes it feels mostly futile. Like we can never really do enough. Like we can’t really solve the problem. I don’t like going on the trips because it reminds me of how far we still have to go.
I get frustrated because I think solutions don’t come quickly enough… I question efficacy and efficiency. I want quantifiable results. I want to fix it. I don’t want to see a single baby who fails to gain weight for 3+ months. Not a single one! And though the formula project trips allow me to see many chubby little ones… I still see far too many who aren’t thriving. Far too many who might not make it. Maybe not for lack of formula, but for lack of specialized care and medical treatment. It’s a complex problem with many deep, systemic issues… and it isn’t one that I can easily fix.
But I want to, and so often the trips make me feel like a failure.
I get angry. At the “system.” At the people around me. At the injustice of a world where some have plenty and others do not.
I get judgmental. About the caregivers. The staff. The people back home who just don’t “care enough.” I have to confess something really dark and dirty. When I came back, I had an email in my inbox asking for prayer for a 2 year old with a skin rash. The first thought through my head was not a prayer… it was: Well that won’t kill him.
What has become of me? I’m even getting all self-righteous on people asking for prayer for their children!!
I know Jesus isn’t glorified by my attitude. I’m probably doing more harm than good.
But when I came back and talked to a friend about the trip, she encouraged me to reframe my perspective. She saw through my good intentions and hard work to the heart of the matter – that I feel like it’s my responsibility to solve the problem. Though I probably would say that God is in control of the children’s lives, my behavior reflects a belief that if me and my colleagues don’t measure up, the problem will be forgotten. I’m failing to be a co-laboror with Christ and am turning into a work-a-holic for a noble-sounding cause. And that doesn’t bring Him glory or pleasure and only brings me frustration and weariness.
It’s hard, isn’t it? To maintain balance in our lives when there are plenty of good causes and noble pursuits vying for our attention? Like Martha, we busy ourselves with good and important work – from mothering to volunteering to providing for our families. And like Martha, we get irritated at the Marys and fail to heed Jesus’ gentle reminder that resting at his feet is the better way.
I’ve begun noticing that more and more my heart yearns to be a Mary; to simply rest at his feet and let him carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. I know if I carry it, it will crush me, but I still feel guilty when I stop and rest. What if a baby dies because I just didn’t work hard enough? The guilt-track starts playing through my head the instant I cease striving and try to rest. Though I have no idea how to make it real in my life on a daily basis, I know I hear him calling me… all who are weary and heavy-laden, come to me and I will give you rest.
You know what I think I’m finding out? That when I’m trying to carry the burden by myself; when I’m shouldering more than my load, I quickly become disgruntled, angry, judgmental, and cynical. I don’t look like Jesus. I’m not reflecting His love. But when I take the time to rest; when I cease striving, give him the problem and let him be God, I have more joy, peace, and faith that he’s go the whole world in his hands.
Though it may seem to be an oxymoron, spending time resting in him is really the only way to make a difference.
(Now if I could just figure out how to practice what I preach.)