Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 14 of Giving That Gives Back: Why I Am Not That Sorry I Bailed On You

So, in case you haven't noticed, I kind of bailed on you guys in the last couple of weeks. I wanted to start this post with an apology and an explanation, but when I began to think about the factors that explain my disappearance, the truth is, I really can't be all that sorry.

First of all, there was a practical factor involved. We had a short term mission to lead in one of our most remote outposts and were away from reliable internet. It was a wonderful week. And it made me realize a few things. I needed to unplug a bit and be present here. I was grasping at community in this wide internet world and ignoring very real relationships. I was pushing toward the future so hard, I was missing the joy of the present. I had lost the simple joy of just loving well and walking in mercy right here, right now. And on the inside, I was having a bit a soul melt down that needed immediate triage.

I can't say I know exactly why I found myself frazzled, feeling deeply broken and unfixable and unwilling to lean in to the one Answer I know is all I need. I know the instability and dependence required by this life I live had something to with it. I know some difficult personal griefs I was facing had a lot to do with it. And I know that getting caught up in how I wish things were instead of doing what I can with what I have was a lot of it. But there was also another component, and it has to do with the reason I started this series in the first place. It was to speak in to the injustice of modern day slavery. And I think I have not done that as well as I would have liked.

The reason is because sometimes I get caught up in talking about an ISSUE. I get fired up about INJUSTICE. I want to become an advocate for change for the WORLD AT LARGE. And then something happens to make me realize this is real. It is not metaphorical justice for an ambiguous world that we are advocating.

It is freedom from slavery. For real people. With names. And mothers who don't know what happened to their babies who were stolen. Who are locked away behind walls and can't even remember how long they've been there. Girls who are daily being ravaged mind, body and soul for the sake of another's perversion.

Last week, one of The Exodus Road's teams raided a "dance bar" in India. They were finally able to successfully execute the raid after a number of tip offs had thwarted their efforts. They raided, made the arrests, and began to process the victims on site. After seven hours of processing victims, they began to hear sounds coming from behind a wall. When they broke through a portion of that wall, they found 22 women and girls trapped there, in a confined space without food, water, or air to breathe. You can read the account for yourself here. And see real video footage of the space where these women were trapped here.

You guys. Not a day has passed that this reality has not stung me at my core. Real women, 18 of them minors, CHILDREN, walled up in a hole by slave traders. Clawing and scratching, desperate for release. Robbed of the very right to breathe the air around them. In utter, desolate darkness. And freedom came. Release came. And I am so, so grateful.

But I am stuck. I cannot figure out how I am supposed to make mashed potatoes for dinner and order sweet gifts for people knowing there are millions more still trapped. MILLIONS. If this is not rocking our humanity like an earthquake, friends, what will?

And then there is this aspect of my life that is breaking me wide open too. It is caring for moms. Real moms. Who have the same hopes and dreams that you and I do as we welcome a baby into the world. They want labor to go well. They want a safe delivery. Even though they will be alone, with no one at their side, they want access to medical care that will keep them and their baby alive in the case of an emergency. They hope they will make enough milk to breastfeed and that the baby is healthy. They hope that baby will grow up and be able to go to school and have opportunities for a good and productive future.

Moms watch their babies die at an alarming rate because of premature births that could be prevented. Because of a FREAKING MOSQUITO BITE. Because of Strep B infections that can be detected by a simple test. You all probably know that I am a mom who has held my child, not breathing, in my arms. Handed him over to paramedics. Placed him in the ground and had to figure out how to walk away. You may not know that I have suffered four subsequent miscarriages, two in the last six months. I cannot compartmentalize the reality that while there may have been nothing I could have done for my own son, there are moms who are holding dying babies in their arms who can be saved by our help. I can't pretend that it is not a really hard thing that God has chosen to redeem my suffering by asking me to love moms and help save their babies while my own have not been saved. I will not pretend that this is easy for me all the time. But I will not back away from the chance to keep one more mama's arms full, one more little one alive and well and with a hope for the future.

And I break sometimes under the weight of needing to figure this out. How do we fix these things? What is our Savior asking of me? of you? of us as the Body of Christ?

And so I find myself a bit quieter these days, because I have got to seek the voice of the only Answer. The only voice that saves. The only one who can heal this brokenness and bring light to the darkness, the one who sets captives free. And me, I am feeling a little bit broken, dark and held captive. And I need an advent. A new beginning. A waiting. A settling into the very real reality of darkness so I can hold fast to the Light when it breaks upon us at Christmas.

I need to read stories to my guys and spend the afternoons with my neighbors. I need to bump along dusty roads and watch a seventeen year old expectant mom change her plastic tarp roof out for a tin one thanks to generous friends. I need to rock baby orphans on my lap and deck the halls of their home and scoop rice and beans into their hungry mouths and love. I need to remember that love conquers all, my friends. And for that, I need to be here. Where I love and am loved.

So, I am going to go ahead and proceed here for what it's worth to those of you following along. But I am not going to force the happy holiday joy of the world. I am going to write the things that are pressing on my heart. And I am going to do so without much fanfare. Without hoping you'll see it as worthy of sharing or applauding or commenting. Just me. Real. In my space. With my heart open and broken and bleeding and waiting for the dawn of something new.

So, I bailed on you guys. But I am not sorry. And I hope you understand why.


  1. Oh. My. Word.

    I am glad you share this here, Colleen. You bring the reality of this to those of us who, from the comfort of our homes, are all too tempted to see this as a story, maybe even a myth.

    But be present. Do the work you are called to do.

    Prayers from here.

  2. please don't ever stop loving. please don't ever stop seeking. please don't ever stop believing in the one true Answer. You are loved and prayed for everyday my missionary friend. just keep serving. God's got the rest. Love and hugs!

  3. Dear Colleen-I love your heart and your words. Please share when you can and know you are in our prayers always. You are the the hands and feet, my sister.

  4. I am not sorry that you bailed either. Because God is doing amazing things in your heart, and you have an incredible gift for spilling that over into our hearts. Praying for you and for yours. Everything that you write touches somebody in a beautiful way- whenever you're able however you are able. God bless you.