I sit in a room crowded with women passionate about advocating for the voiceless as the panel speaks on how to communicate on the topic of social justice, creating empathy, and writing calls to action. I wouldn’t say it out loud, but in my arrogance I think I might have something to contribute to the conversation. I did blog a World Vision trip to Bolivia, after all.
I listen with relief as Kristin describes how the overwhelming guilt she carried when she returned home from Africa kept her from accepting the flowers her family brought her at the airport.
“I am normal,” I think.
Then, as she continues, I see how we both poured that guilt over our friends and family, thinking we had to fix all the world’s problems since we’d seen the brokenness. This burden falls away as she says we are each called to do something, to find a need and fill it, but we can’t do it all. “Remember that becoming aware and finding the cause that matches your pain took you time. It will take every person time.”
But I am not expecting what comes next. Shaun says, “Creating empathy isn’t your job. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. As a blogger, you have work to do, but God is the one who moves people.”
As I hear a better way, a way that majors on God’s mercy and how we can join in His mercy work, a way that lets God move people to love in the way that fits them the best, even when they don’t love what I love, I know it. I’ve done you wrong. I remember apologies from friends who said “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t read those posts.”
I forgot that God loves the people of Bolivia infinitely more than I. I forgot that all He asks of me is to tell their stories, to give them a platform so that their voices can be heard. Your pain may match a different cause. He may want you to give your extra to someone else. All God asks of you is to listen to the stories, ask Him what He wants you to do, and then do it. Whether you support World Vision or Compassion or Samaritan’s Purse or your local soup kitchen, the important thing is that you do what God leads you to do.
So I ask the panel, voice trembling, “What do you do when you know you’ve done it wrong?”
You can always go back and edit the posts, they say. And if you think it’s needed, write an apology. They pour grace onto my regret. Kristi points out, “Blogging is a long-term story of redemption… LIVE.” TeriLynne adds, “We oppress ourselves by our expectations.”
I write today to ask your forgiveness. Forgive me for using guilt to push you into meeting my expectations. Forgive me for not allowing you to need more time, to say “no,” or to be committed to another cause.
Forgive me for trying to be your Holy Spirit.