This is How to Carry the Weight of the World

Jun 17, 2015

Recently, someone wrote a blog post about a terrible injustice happening in our world.

I hear your deep sigh of recognition. Who wrote the post? What was the injustice? You know it almost doesn’t matter.

Aren’t our facebook feeds and blog readers and twitter accounts spilling over with painful stories of injustice? There is so much darkness. In our own small towns. In our own familiar cities. And in countries so far away we sometimes forget that they are more than just the names we hear repeated on the radio news.

When this blog post popped up in my email inbox, I read the title and then quickly shut my laptop. I told myself, I do not want to feel this. I cannot handle any more grief. Any more anger.

Especially when there is nothing I can do.

*

My daughter has been learning about the Holocaust. What began as a teacher-assigned classroom project has shifted into a personal obsession. Her bedroom walls are pale pink, there is still a doll on the center of her bed, but the bedside table is stacked with The Hiding Place and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.

After a difficult beginning, she has been processing it all fairly well. Stories of heroes and rescuers, especially, are helping her navigate the deep waters of our history.

But I am not doing so well.

It is a terrible thing to watch a child’s eyes being opened. Opened to terror. To darkness. To some brokenness in our world that began, I suppose, with Cain and Abel but simply Will. Not. Quit.

She would like to visit the Holocaust museum. I’ve told her no. Not yet. It is possible that she could handle it, but I feel sure that I cannot.

*

Is it ever okay to look away? To close the laptop? Plug up our ears? Maybe yes. Maybe no. I’m not really sure.

I did go back and read that blog post. It was as horrific as I had imagined, but there was also a clear call to action. There was a way for people to help, and many responded with a yes.

As I confronted my own feelings of powerlessness, I remembered that no one who prays is powerless.

I may never be able to rush around the world dispensing sure-thing solutions, but I can pray. And that is not a little thing.

Even prayer gives me hope. I have seen, again and again, that when we feel a tug to pray then God is already at work. He is the source of that tug. It is his invitation to join him in the great and beautiful thing he is already doing.

And as overwhelmed as I am, as weak as I feel, I hope I never say no to that.

*

My daughter’s eyes have been opened. But they have been opened to more than darkness. She is beginning to recognize the seed that has been planted inside of her: the seed of a rescuer. A lover of justice. A champion for rightousness.

Her mother is not those things. You do not want me to lead your campaign.

I am an observer. Once, I might have written that I am only an observer. But I have come to understand that those of us watching, quietly, from the edges, we are the ones who, when the moment is right, climb the high mountain and shout the good news of what we have seen: “Here is your God!” (Is 40:9)

We are unique, and our responses to suffering will be unique.

But may our prayer always be the same:

“… let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24).

*

There is a river. How does that stream flow through you?

*

sisters

23 Comments

  1. Larry Ebaugh

    Dear Christie,

    As usual I was moved by the words of the Observer. These are good words that have the power to motivate.

    Of course I’ve never met your daughter. But when you call her a “lover of justice” and a “champion for righteousness”, I feel like I already know her.

    May God bless your daughter, and may God also bless you as you continue to guide her and also seek after the Lord.

    And please pray for the soon return of the King of Righteousness. Our land can certainly use him right about now. But be prepared that when he does return, he will be looking to recruit those who have a burning flame within for the cause of justice and righteousness.

    Take care,

    ~ Larry

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    Christie,

    I am so thankful for your writing. I think my favorite line (if I can even have a favorite) is where you move past your grief over your daughter’s learning of horrible things – into a place of catching a vision for what treasure God is clarifying in her heart. Too often, I get waylaid by my own sorrow, and I forget that.

    And maybe you’re not a leader of crusades, but we do need you. We need you to bear witness, to remind us when we forget that “[our] Father is a gardener,” (John 15:1) and even in the face of injustice, “[our} Father is always at work.” (John 5:17). This same Father is the champion of orphans and widows, of displaced tribes, of abused people, of children and their parents. And one day, one day, He will set all things right.

    So, thank you for allowing the river to flow through you the way you do.

    Reply
    • Christie Purifoy

      Ah, Sarah, those Scriptures! I’m reading your comment over and over this morning. Such a blessing and encouragement. Thank you, thank you for taking the time to write it out.

      Reply
  3. Tresta

    Beautiful. I am with you, closing the laptop often and sighing the deep sigh of “Come, Lord.” I love that you can see and appreciate the justice in your daughter and the prayerful observation in yourself – something that helps us act with what God has given us, rather than compare and feel guilty.

    Reply
    • Christie Purifoy

      Yes, Tresta, exactly. That guilt is so heavy. How much better the joy of sharing in Christ’s suffering, in whatever way we have been created to share in it.

      Reply
  4. Mykel

    Dearest Christie,
    How beautiful a mother you are to Notice, Allow, Protect, and Celebrate your daughter. Particularly inspiring to me, that you celebrate what you see in her that is not you. I’m sure you also guide and that there is much to celebrate in her that is also you. Thank you for good tears.
    Your friend, Mykel

    Reply
    • Christie Purifoy

      Oh, Mykel. Such sweet words. Thank you, dear one. Prayers for you and your own mothering journey this morning.

      Reply
  5. Veronica

    Hi Christie, there is such a quiet strength and beauty in your words. I like that you recognize that you are an Observer, it is a part of the you that God created. And this connected with me “I remembered that no one who prays is powerless.” Sometimes, it is hard to see the suffering in the world and not feel discouraged, but we can pray and indeed it is no small thing. Thank you for imparting such quiet wisdom this morning.

    Reply
    • Christie Purifoy

      Veronica, thank you for being here and leaving these words. You encourage me.

      Reply
  6. Caitlin

    i

    Reply
  7. Esther

    Oh, I needed this today, Christie. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Christie Purifoy

      You are so welcome, Esther. Thanks for letting me know.

      Reply
  8. Danielle

    “I remembered that no one who prays is powerless.” Something I need to remind myself and actually DO more often, pray. Thanks for the reminder.

    And

    “We are unique, and our responses to suffering will be unique.”

    Yes, God needs all different types of us responding to suffering in our different ways, from the crusader to the artist.

    Reply
    • Christie Purifoy

      “From the crusader to the artist.” Danielle, you’ve got me thinking about how others respond in ways that are true to their uniqueness.

      Reply
  9. Briana

    Christie,

    My friend, Danielle, directed me to this post, and I am so glad she did. Like your daughter, I have a crusader’s heart but God has confined my boundary lines such that I fight MOST of the crusades via prayer. For a long time, I wrestled with what I felt was limiting boundary lines until God put it in my heart to claim Psalm 16:5,6 as my life verse (and hence, title of my blog). And, even more powerful, He has shown me, most profoundly through a bed ridden by MS friend who has since passed into eternity, that prayer is most certainly not the “at least” thing we can do when faced with the hardships and injustices of life. It is the first and most powerful thing we can do.

    Reply
    • Christie Purifoy

      Briana, your experience is powerful. Thank you for sharing a bit of it here. I am grateful!

      Reply
  10. Marilyn Yocum

    Yes!
    “… when we feel a tug to pray then God is already at work” and “… no one who prays is powerless.”

    Such an important topic! I’m so glad you brought it up. We are not all wired the same or equipped the same. Unfortunately, too many of us feel guilty for not responding as others do. We are not here to lay guilt on each other.

    God brings information to our attention for a reason and sometimes it’s to call us into a conversation. Sometimes it’s to give. Sometimes it’s to go. Sometimes it’s to change the way we do something. But the thing is, to listen and find out what we are being called to, and then to be obedient.

    Marvelous blog post, Christie.

    Reply
  11. Dan McDonald

    Thank you. Prayer at least in part surely is a testimony of helplessness seeking He who is the sender of help. Prayer is doing something from registering our own helplessness to seeking that help which alone is able to quiet the turmoil of the seas in their unrest.

    Also when I have most wanted to deal with the struggles of injustice head on, I have also found most welcoming your peaceful havens of your writings. Perhaps what you have offered is more than we sometimes realize. We are tempted to imagine it to be fluff when someone offers peace in their writings with little acknowledgment of the strife. But perhaps your calling has been to offer a violence free zone, a sort of shalom from the kingdom to come to be experienced here on earth as it is in heaven. Perhaps the expressions of peace that may seem an escape from the reality of our world is at times an expression of the reality of the kingdom to come within our own troubled days. If that is so then in your own way you have helped advance the kingdom of heaven against the injustices of today. I know that your words have often helped me to know peace within the turmoil.

    Reply
    • Christie Purifoy

      Dan, I hardly know what to write except, “Thank you.” I have struggled mightily in recent weeks toward a vision of what it is that I am doing here on this blog. But this idea of a peaceful creative space, not as escape, but as an expression of the reality of the kingdom … wow. I don’t think I have ever seen it quite like that. This is huge for me. Thank you. Truly.

      Reply
  12. Dan McDonald

    My thoughts at the moment were sort of new as I realized that I had learned to come to your blog expecting a place of peace and quiet. The whole idea seems to me to be something life changing to see ourselves as places where God’s peace May be ushered into the world.

    Reply
  13. Diana Trautwein

    Thank you. You’re so right — we are each unique, and the ways in which we will work for justice will not look alike. The point is to do whatever it is we do with faithfulness, I guess. Thanks for your usual grace and vulnerability.

    Reply

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