“What if you no longer considered yourself altruistic unless the causes you supported were actually making your life more complicated?” -Donald Miller-
This quote hit me square between the eyes because, lately, I am a t-shirt-buying, check-writing, Facebook-status-updating, GoodSearch search-engining, blog-writing, all-from-the-comfort-of-my-own-home philanthropist.
And yes, I have gone to a few third world countries, but for about a year now, my social justice words, though well-meaning, have not been matching my social justice action. I’ve been all talk (and all write). And don’t get me wrong, I know that is needed and God can use that to hopefully stir others to action, and I know it’s been a circumstantial choice only for a season, but my money, for many reasons, has not been where my mouth is.
Until recently.Because I was asked to lead a Bible study of people who have HIV and I accepted the offer.And here’s how that little choice made my life more complicated.Well, for one thing, I committed to leave my house and drive a half hour to the local AIDS clinic seven Tuesdays in a row.I don’t like leaving my house all that much.Two, I was leading the study which meant I needed to, you know, do the study and prepare and such.Three, I was pretty much saying I was willing to get to know however many new people this group would consist of, and try to lead them each a bit closer to God.
So I went and the first week was fantastic (http://elisabethcorcoran.blogspot.com/2010/04/waking-up.html). And then I went back the second week, and no one showed up. Ouch. I only didn’t take this personally because I’ve been walking with Jesus for a very long time. In fact, I felt the Spirit tell me, while I sat at the table in the clinic’s conference room all by myself, “You’re right where you’re supposed to be,” even if that meant I was all alone. And I walked out a half hour later, smiling to the staff, saying we’d try it again next week. (Very unlike me, by the way, to be all flexible and patient like that.) Then I went back the third week and, shocker, not a one showed up again. “Disappointing but not surprising,” a staffer said of their clients. So I had a good talk with another staffer for a few minutes, and headed out the door.
I went back on the fourth week, still feeling like this was what I was supposed to be doing, and three of the original four were back. (Let me tell you, it took everything in me not to point out that I’d showed up the past two weeks and they hadn’t.) So we had a really good session talking about faith and how to appropriately be there for other people and how we can depend, really, only on God. And then the four of us decided…okay, three of us decided because one was kind of asleep, but I again chose not to take that personally (watch, I probably really should be taking ALL of this personally!)…so the three of us decided to start fresh in the fall and invite more people and that felt right too.
What’s my point? I can sit behind my computer and write letters to editors and blogs and columns and status updates and click a donation and buy a t-shirt and that is all well and good and needed. But it wasn’t until I pulled into the parking lot of Open Door a few weeks ago ready to open up my heart to a few strangers with HIV, willingly letting my life get a bit messy if need be, that I knew my heart and beliefs and words and actions were all lining up, just as God intended them to be.