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.