Here’s a little piece of advice for ya: if you plan to get a significant amount of sleep at night, do not drink caffeinated tea (especially black tea…higher caffeine content) or coffee after 11pm. Why? Because if you do, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up staying awake till at least 2am. Believe me, I’m speaking from experience. To be honest, though, my sleeping patterns lately have been pretty fudged up, and I don’t think caffeine is to blame. I blame life. Life and its various manifestations of crap. The “why is this happening to me, and how much longer will I have to put up with this?” question haunts me on a nightly basis. And sometimes I really detest myself for it, because I hate it when people throw themselves these ridiculous pity parties—yet I find myself so often behaving exactly like “those” people. The bottom line is, I just want the problems and the pain to go away. And for once in my life, I just want to be able to turn off my restless brain and get some decent sleep. (I know, it’s never that simple, but the thought is endearing).
Speaking of my restless brain…
Late at night is typically the time when my thoughts decide to run a marathon. I’ll lie there and think (way too hard) about all the different things that are currently going on in my life—especially all the negative things. And then I get frustrated. And it’s this vicious cycle that never stops.
But lately, my “thoughts of restlessness” have mostly been about Haiti. And you know what? It’s actually a refreshing change—refreshing in the sense that my mind has become preoccupied with something other than me, myself, and I. Like I said, I hate the concept of self-pity, yet that road is such an easy one to wander down. And I swear, it’s like Pandora’s box: once you open it, it takes an enormous amount of effort to lock it back up. So why do I even bother going down that road? I don’t really know. Selfishness, I guess. See? Even now…me, me, me. Enough with that, already! Back to Haiti…
As is probably the case for a lot of folks, I just can’t seem to get away from what happened. In my short years of life, I’ve heard a number of stories about hard-hitting natural disasters—Hurricane Katrina, the Asia Tsunami, etc. But I don’t know, none of those have ever impacted me the way that this one has. My heart is really broken this time. Perhaps it’s a result of simply knowing that even prior to the quakes, the Haitians were dealing with rather significant amounts of instability as a nation. Or maybe it’s something else. At any rate, my heart breaks for those who have been affected by the earthquakes. I know I’m doing a poor job of expressing it, but it’s true. I’ve never felt so strongly for another country as I do for Haiti—almost to the point where I find myself appalled with the people who don’t seem to share my brokenness. Like Saturday morning: I logged on to Facebook and a friend had posted a status message about getting a pedicure. You know what my first thought was? Why the hell are you wasting your money on something like that?! You totally could’ve donated that money to charity! I even found myself annoyed when another friend said that the Hope for Haiti Now telethon seemed like a cheesy event. How dare you! They’re raising money for a great cause and are probably being more productive at it than you’ll ever be! Please don’t misunderstand me…I’m not at all saying that I’m right for having these thoughts. I’m not. By no means is it my place to judge. Perhaps my friend who decided to get a pedicure has already donated to the Red Cross, World Vision, or other charity of her choice. And the anti-telethon friend may have done the same. But even if they haven’t, who am I to judge? We all have different convictions, different things that compel us or tug at our heartstrings, and just because my two friends don’t feel the same as I do doesn’t mean they’re suddenly “bad” or heartless people. I guess what I’m really trying to say is this: the situation in Haiti has really made an impression on me.
And then, to add to all this, I recently wrote and contributed an article about Haiti to Girls by Design (an online network/blog for teen girls). This meant I had to research some specifics about the country and its current catastrophe (the goal of the article was to raise awareness among teen girls about Haiti’s situation and to offer them some suggestions on how they can make a difference in the relief efforts). So once again, my mind started working, and my heart continued breaking.
When it all boils down, here’s what I’ve realized: I want to go to Haiti. Badly. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a strong urge to want to go on a mission trip. Considering the amount of time I’ve spent in the church (basically my whole life), I really haven’t gone on many global mission trips. I’ve traveled but not really for missions purposes. But every time I see an image of the rubble-covered streets of Port-au-Prince, every time I read an article about the broken-bodied survivors and orphans, every time I watch a Youtube video, or hear people discussing this disaster, I feel like dropping everything—school, work, life—and heading over there.
I posted a status about wanting to go, and a friend/mentor responded by saying, “You should listen to those promptings.” I don’t want to over-spiritualize and assume that this is God’s doing, but at the same time, I wonder if perhaps the Lord is behind these promptings. I certainly don’t want to dismiss that idea. God’s done stuff like that before in my life and in the lives of people around me.
I know I’ve complained quite a bit over the last few months about feeling stuck in my current existence. With graduation coming up, I know “change” is upon the horizon, but I still find myself feeling discouraged and confused and doubting just about everything in regards to my future. But maybe that’s exactly the problem; maybe I’ve been spending too much time thinking about myself, my shortcomings, and the uncertainties in my life. The truth is I’ve spent all this time hiding in a hole. Ever since I resigned from my worship leader/youth leader position at Westgate, I’ve built this wall around myself and have somehow convinced myself that I’m too week, too blemished, and too incapable of doing something “great” again. But as I look back at the “happiest” moments of my life, you know what I see? That those moments were never about me; I was happiest when I was involved in helping/serving others.
Perhaps happiness is the wrong word, though; what I’m really after is joy. I’m tired of the emotional ups and downs—the unpredictability that comes with happiness. I’m tired of the late nights of lying awake, wondering how I’ll make it through another day, week, month, year; tired of just surviving. I want to tap into my full potential again. I want to know what God really has in store for me. What is my calling? I want a fresh start. And maybe I won’t get that fresh start until I get up and do something about it…like going to Haiti. So here’s my prayer: God, if this is Your will—if You are the One placing this desire in my heart, then (a) give me some sort of confirmation, and (b) turn this desire into reality.
Of course, actually going to Haiti would require a serious miracle. I definitely don’t have the money, resources, or even the time to just get up and go. But guess what? I happen to serve a God who is quite fond of granting miracles. So who knows? It’s certainly not impossible.
This may sound super cheesy, but I can’t help but think of the old song, “This Little Light of Mine.” I grew up singing it in church (complete with the choreographed hand motions and everything!), but I don’t know if the song’s “point” ever truly sunk in for me. One of the verses talks about not hiding our lights under bushels. Looking back at the last five years of my life, I realize that that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. And now I’m finally realizing…it’s time to stop hiding.