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A Keeper of Heartbreak

Making a difference in the world is freaking exhausting.
and slow. ant stuck in molasses slow.

Putting your most vulnerable truths out into the universe is almost unbearable.
and awkward. first day of the middle school swimming unit awkward.

Building a ministry out of nothing is painful.
and heart-breaking. the sleepless, pillow-soaked night after a tough break-up heart-breaking.

Sure, there was a day I got a standing ovation in front of 500+ people.
1 day in 6 years of grind.

I’m already burnt out as the “suicide guy,” the worst day of my life a standard conversation starter for acquaintances I barely even know.

Over the past two years I accidentally became a keeper of stories, traveling the country and holding people after speaking events as they sob into my shoulder in high school gyms. another brother who lost his battle, another dad who will never hold his daughter again, and on and on it goes.

A keeper of heartbreak.

Starting a ministry people is… exhausting and awkward and painful. and lonely.

Can I say that out loud?

It seems most people are quite content going about their day intently focused on simple pleasures like making it to that third beer on Friday night. I used to be that guy and the truth is, sometimes I miss that version of myself. Sometimes I resent God for this cross I never wanted to bear. Sometimes it’s too heavy, my legs too weak, my heart too empty.

Today is one of those days.

I had a Skype meeting tonight… I received an email last week I’d been chosen for a prestigious list of 21 Christian Leaders & Entrepreneurs Changing the World and I was stoked. “We’d like to promote your work to our audience of over 100,000 people.

In the meeting, she complimented my ministry, told me how incredible it was that I was telling my story and living my life in a way that glorified God.

Then she asked how many email subscribers I had.
When I told her, I was promptly… kicked off the list.
My influence wasn’t impressive enough for her.
My following much, much too small.
No no, they had a “email subscriber buy-in” and my little blog that could didn’t make the cut.

And quickly it became apparent that promoting the list was much more important than the work of those on the list itself.

Ahh, how the cool truthful Icy Hot of pride burns and tingles against the skin.

And here I sit again feeling empty and dejected. Like it’s all never enough. Like I’m never enough, a feeling many of us know all too well.

This has never been about getting on a list for me.
It’s never been about numbers or promoting myself.
It’s never been about giveaways or gimmicks to bring people on board.
Quite frankly, being rich and famous sounds worse than Teletubbies on Ice.

I don’t care if you follow me or subscribe or you send me emails telling me I am spoiled, selfish brat who needs a good “whoopin” (again).
I don’t care if you make me buy my own coffee and then tell me I’m a source of darkness.
Most days I’m not sure I even have much to contribute here beyond a few good words and trying to show you that you’re not alone in this world.

Here’s the thing people, making a difference in the world isn’t glamorous.

It’s never easy or “pure joy” as the perfect Christians claim it to be. In fact, I’m not sure those people even really know what the words “struggle” and “sacrifice” even mean.

Making a real difference is raw and exhausting and unbearable at times.

But I guess that’s why most people never attempt it, isn’t it?
That’s why they focus on vacations and house projects and busyness until it’s too late to figure out that we were actually made for so much more…

to love. and help. and reach out a hand.
to lift up. and carry. and dry tears.
to feed. and clothe. and wrap in blankets.
to snuggle orphans and to rescue slaves.
to bear stories. and heartbreak. and battle scars.
to commune at crisp campfires and earth-shattering funerals.
to hurt from laughter and the occasional fried Oreo.
to dream. and grind. and believe that even the worst pain can be used for good.

beyond the political cacophony,
beyond the rage and in-fighting,
beyond all those who are only out there to promote themselves, chasing fame and recognition, there are the few of us living a different way.

there are the few of us just trying to love and be loved.
to carry the weight of those who can’t even stand.
those of us who are left off the list and who, despite our hurt, are better for it.

I’ll never sugar coat it people, changing the world is exhausting and slow and awkward and unbearable and painful and heartbreaking. and lonely.

But given the option, I’d still hit submit on that first blog post.
I’d still say yes to starting this ministry.
I’d still step out on a stage in front of 30 or 3,000 people to tell them about this guy named Jesus who gave my life purpose and taught me to pick up my cross, no matter the cost, and keep moving forward.

So keep fighting my friends. Keep pushing into that thing you were made to do. When the hurt comes, don’t numb the pain, but allow yourself to feel the real human emotions that Jesus himself felt.

Then go to sleep.
Wake up, put your two strong feet on the ground and start all over again.
Pick up your cross and follow Him.

To embody love in a broken world is to be a keeper of heartbreak.

There’s simply no way around it.

But this way of living, living for the sake of others, is the only way to ever be recklessly alive and… it’s worth every second.

See you in the morning world changers.



About Sam

in love with all things Jesus, music, adventure, writing, teaching, laughter, running, friendship. Founder of recklesslyalive.com.

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  1. That slap-in-the face-reality is what keeps so many people from pushing the barriers and making a difference. Perhaps it’s a pre-requisite for not succumbing to the twist that “fame and fortune” can bring to a noble purpose? or your motivation for choices? or the ugly specter of becoming full of one’s self? Know that you are making a difference to those whom you touch, in person, in the virtual world, in ways you most likely won’t know. Even those of us with no “story to tell” relevant to yours, appreciate knowing that the struggles of living life with meaning are universal to all who would try.

  2. Heartbroken today and feeling unworthy….had my soul lifted by a friend and then this link was in my inbox…thanks Sam

  3. You are such a help and inspiration to others. When the hard days come, try to remember that. There are not enough words to tell you how your posts inspire and refresh me, so I’ll just say Thank you my friend, and please keep them coming. Two things I know for sure – I’m broken (even when I try to convince myself I’ve really got it together), and God loves me anyway, and unconditionally. Wow, what a relief to my soul that is! You are not alone.

  4. Thank you for this Sam. I will pray for you on this weary road. Thank you for letting the Lord be strong in you weakness. He is using you for wonderful things.

  5. If you only saved one, it would be worth it all.
    You matter and your message is desperately needed.
    Carry on soldier.

  6. Denying and dying to oneself is never easy… its very difficult, its heart wrenching, but Jesus desrves it all… He deserves it all.

    • God bless you Sam. Be strong my friend not for anyone else but for God Himself, He deserves your passion, your praise and your worship…. your all in all. See you in the morning… overcomer!!

  7. So much truth in these words. My eyes are filled with tears and my insides feel that weariness and loneliness. Thank you for saying the hard things and for getting kicked off that list and for not making numbers your top priority. In this together.

  8. Good morning, Sam, and I hope it is a good morning for you. Your post is so well timed and such a comfort. If all you feel you achieve is making someone else feel that they are not alone, it is worth more than the sun and moon combined. Note – today, that someone happens to be me. Thank you. It’s hard, when you feel that you absolutely have to try and make a difference, and you see everyone else pull up the draw-bridge. It is lonely, and it makes me want to run for the hills and disconnect from the world. But. BUT – something stronger keeps my feet where they are, keeps me chipping away at the mountain of hard work, disappointment and solitary slog with a teaspoon, because that little pile of chippings does get bigger. The reading for our Sunday service is Matthew 25, 35-40, and it is so appropriate for your post, and for how I feel right now. Faith, Hope and Love – they are my lifejacket, my defibrillator, my shot of adrenalin when I feel I’m lost. God is good, and we were made in His image.

  9. Since May my favorite blog post has been “How Do You Spot True Leaders in Your Church?” I’ve probably read “A Keeper of Heartbreak” seven times, and I’m pretty sure there’s now a tie for first.

    The Skype conversation sounds like a huge disappointment, Sam. I’m sorry that it was. But from the experience your character and heart are once again revealed. Both are well-formed, beautiful, and good.

    Yours is a heart-breaking ministry and a difficult calling.Thanks for being brave enough to share and for choosing to love others as you journey down this road.

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