I folded his clothes and placed them in the drawer. The onesies and sleepers and tiny t-shirts overwhelmed me with their cuteness. The special baby laundry detergent left little scent on the clothes, but somehow they still smelled like babies and all the hope and life they promise. I closed the drawer and stood, still getting used to my new post-baby body. It wasn’t what it had been, and I’m not sure it ever would be. But in this moment, it and I weren’t hating each other. I looked at his nursery, filled with clothes and toys and diapers. And I wrestled with the tension of how this little three month old boy had so much, when I knew other little boys were wasting away because they didn’t have enough food, let alone enough clothing or shelter.
I loved my son. I loved his blue eyes, his sleepy expressions and the way his blond hair stuck up around his head. He was long and lean just like me and his daddy. I loved how he was quiet and would just stare at us, slow to crack a smile that other babies gave away freely.
I loved snuggling him close, and the way he sucked at my breast, eating quickly and efficiently. He didn’t waste time.
I wanted to give him all the best things I could give him. And even in that euphoric love, I knew this is how mothers generally feel about their children. My love for my son was no different than the love of mothers all over the world. We are hard-wired to give ourselves to our children. And I wrestled with the unfairness and the tension that I could provide him with so much while so many couldn’t give their children anything.
The discrepancy tore at me, breaking me open. I couldn’t wrap my head around how I could have so much when so many had so little. There was a temptation to duck my head and just live my life the best I could with what I had. To listen to my own heart and my own wants and take what I had been given and pour it into more.
But I also found an invitation. I found an invitation to wrestle with the tension, to ask the hard questions. An invitation to hear stories and to see the common thread of humanness that ties us all together. It was an invitation to be part of something bigger—to be part of a global change. It was an invitation to use the lottery of birth to share, to become a blessing. It was an invitation to hear the ones whose voices have been stolen, speaking into them and creating space where their voices are heard. It was an invitation to enter into the suffering of others, even as I sit here on my couch.
I’m a writer. So one of the ways I have engaged this tension is by writing about it. Jen Hatmaker wrote the book I would love to write. I read Interrupted when it first came out, and was undone. She put all the thoughts and feelings and words to something that had been plaguing me. She spoke about our privilege and turning our lives upside down—about really engaging the world in which we get to live. How our privilege gives us the opportunity to be more than just another vapor, but a chance to make a real and marked change. Interrupted is her journey into this tension, and the steps she took as she learned about the heart of God, and his desperate love for all people.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of My sheep will die today because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are My youngest lambs, starving today with plenty of food to go around. If you truly love Me, you will feed My sheep. My people are already crumbling and dying and starving, and you’re blessing blessed people and serving the saved…All of a sudden I saw my exact reflection in Peter: devoted but selfish, committed by misguided.”
“…can you see why when Americans say democracy, the world hears greed? What seems like basic freedom to us sounds like vast consumption to everyone else…We appear indulged and entitled and oblivious to global crisis and our contribution to the disparity.”
“We stand at the intersection of extreme privilege and extreme poverty, and we have a question to answer: Do I care?…Of course, all I can do is make the tiniest ripple in the ocean. That’s about all you’re good for too. But it’s foolish to become paralyzed by the scope of suffering or discouraged by the limit of our reach.”
“I realized I was completely normal. But my Savior was the most un-normal guy ever. And it was His un-normal ideas that made everything new.”
“We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we’re not convinced it will be perfectly managed. We can’t project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results available only to the privileged.”
“There was one Judas, but eleven disciples who were forever transformed by Jesus’ broken body. The risk of encountering a few weeds is not sufficient reason to avoid the whole field of human suffering…”
“Ultimately, it is not nation or race, church or citizenship that gives people value. It is not sinlessness or innocence that makes us precious. It is not that Jesus looks at us as helpless or powerful, poor or rich, weak or strong. We are loved because we are living images of God, made in his likeness and created for the heights of his glory and the depths of communion. Our very God took on our form for the love of humanity…”
I am forcing myself to stop here. There are so many more things that resonated with me. I know some of those quotes may be hard to read—but I promise on the other side is life. If you’d like to keep reading, the book is available now at any of your preferred booksellers. But I also have a copy to give away. (I’ll order one via amazon and have it shipped directly to the winner cause my lovely daughter added some artwork to the cover of the book the publisher sent me.)
And if you’ve read this book, I’d love to know what parts stood out to you.
Comment below to be entered in the giveaway and I’ll pick a winner next Wednesday, September 3.