Sometimes, often, I am overwhelmed by the heaviness of humanity and sin in the world. My heart sinks so deeply I sometimes think I can feel it in my gut, my innermost area. Compassion, I’ve learned, is a gift. Compassion also costs. I want to follow every.single.thing that tugs at my heart. I want to meet with every.single.person who is struggling. I want to meet every.single.need that I hear of. And when I can’t, I feel grieved.
I think brokenness, sin, the heaviness of humanity should grieve us. There is no possible way any one of us can meet each need we are encountered in a given hour, let alone a day. Grief is the only possible response for me. Grief for how life ought not to have been.
And then there are these moments, sometimes when I do have the capacity to meet a need, that I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to be with someone, show up for something, or share a piece of my story that connects with another. These moments are glimpses of what capture the beauty of humanity, of working towards peace and togetherness that I imagine and hope heaven will be like.
But if I am honest, it’s the times when I don’t meet the need right away, when I am not sure God wants ME to be the one, but rather a part, in some capacity, of seeing healing. That happened today. Today, one of my soccer students, who has a lisp that often makes her barely understandable, spoke words of encouragement to our team, and they listened and applauded her. The team applauded her. She often has panic attacks because of the fear of letting people down, often because she’s not easily understood. Her captains now are the ones who help her through each panic attack. Not myself. She hasn’t had one in a week. Unheard of for her.
Another student who does not have a typical soccer body and really struggles in the sport, started in the game due to lack of alternatives. The captains have been taking turns running laps with this particular young lady each practice as she finishes far later than the rest and barely can do a light jog. Seeing the captains doing this, the other teammates have begun to loop back around and run with her as well, encouraging her every step of that last lap, and taking on an additional lap themselves. Last week said student realized she could ACTUALLY run without falling. For the first time in her life, running is so fun for her, especially with teammates by her side. In the game, this student was an MVP. Not.Even.Joking. She punted the ball. She blocked. She tackled. She attacked the ball and defended the goal and owned her position.
There are these times, too, when we see such goodness in humanity, such wholeness and healing coming from places I would never have expected. Even though I want to meet every need, help every person, I can’t. I’m not supposed to. Sometimes the best thing I can do is get out of the way and let others who have some additional capacity enter in and experience the richness of those moments together. Those are the images I want to capture in my mind and hold onto, images of humanity and of conquering, of looking fear in the face and continuing to go, with a team cheering on. Sometimes God wants me to play a part, an important part in the lives of others. Other times he just wants me to watch, capture and record the moment, and thank him that even though times may feel heavy, it’s being redeemed, one day will be whole. Until then, I will have glimpses.