Having Compassion….Even When It’s Not On Myself.

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Yesterday, in Mexico where I am teaching at a YWAM base, I went to a rescue home for labor trafficked girls from 6-8 years old and sex trafficked girls from about 10-20 years old for about 8 hours. Me any my team were giving a well deserved break to the ladies that worked there. 

Putting these beautiful faces to an issue I have long cared about was both heartbreaking and hopeful, in that these girls still laugh and play and love despite the atrocities they have lived through.

After playing tag and cards and eating with them, they asked me if they could wash and cut my hair. 

As I stuck my head under a sink with freezing cold water and had four little hands gently massaging my scalp and pouring shampoo over my head, I almost started weeping. One of these girls had burns on her arm where cigarette butts had been put out.

These hands had every right to bring violence to anyone they touched. It would be completely justified, as touch has been such a horrible part of their history.

And yet, here they were….Bringing healing with their touch. Touching each others hands as they sat and talked, their arms around each others’ shoulders. Touching my heart by welcoming me with such open arms. And then gently touching the head of a stranger as if I was their good friend. 

The words from the prologue of my book came to me as I was with these girls, with new clarity:

You are stronger than you think you are. 

 You, your hands dirtied with the soil where you till up the rocks of generations gone by. Your tears watering the ground, making the roots grow deep and wide while you are unaware. You labor, you dig, you claw this tiny piece of land where others buried their dreams and gave up trying. 

But not you. You keep going.You never give up. You see the tree in the seed, and you will fight until that tree is standing before you, it’s long willowing arms grasping your hope in its branches. 

You are stronger than you think you are. 

You, covered in all your scars. Where your face was grazed with false imaginings that you were not beautiful enough. Where your hands were caught in fields of cotton when you didn’t believe you were free. Where you were marked across your chest the day you thought that they left because you weren’t worth it. Look closely, love. Look closely because those scars are gilded with gold. Those scars have become your crown. 

You are stronger than you think you are. 

 You, dancing there with your face against the wind. Not a pretty dance, but a wild dance. A hold on for dear life to the hope dance. An I will never stop believing in your goodness dance. A shake the sadness off your skin dance. You, with your feet pounding against the ground to the rhythm of your unsurrenduring spirit. With your knees soiled and bleeding from the prayers and the longings and the times you almost gave up. With your arms thrown up in surrender and beckoning and awe. “You are my love!” you yell, “And I will never stop believing!” There is burning against your back as you lift up your face, because your wings are returning, love. Your wings are returning.

Look at me and believe now. You are stronger than you think you are. Stronger than you think you are. 

As they washed my hair, these girls were draining the dirt off of my often apathetic heart. A heart that often only looks at pain when it is my own pain. That I often pay attention to only when it is my own small tragedy that I am praying about.

As has been pretty evident in my last few posts, I have been struggling a lot in these last few months. I have realized that I need to accept that I might not ever have children or a husband. It might not be true, but I feel like it is time to accept that it very well may be true.

But the hope of these girls, who still love those around them despite the incredible pain they have endured, is the fabric that heaven is made of. That hope softened my heart and helped me to see the power that God has to restore, to wash clean. I remembered for the first time in a while that I have a truly beautiful life, and I was thankful. 

I was completely struck by this quote from Cheryl Strayed because it is so appropriate for what I am going through right now.

“Suffering is a part of life…I know that. You know that. I don’t know why we forget it until something truly awful happens to us, but we do. We wonder why me? and How can this be? and What terrible God would do this? The very fact that this has been done to me is proof that there is no God! 

We act as if we don’t know that awful things happen to all sorts of people every second of every day and the only thing that’s changed about the world or the existence or non existence of God is that it happened to us…To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion….it fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising- the very half that makes rising necessary- is having first been nailed to a cross.”

It is true: focusing completely on my pain deadens my capacity for compassion. To take on one another’s burdens like Jesus did will truly change our lives.

Today, on Thanksgiving, even though it is a lonely day without a family and is really difficult for me, I will look beyond my own pain and remember how truly blessed I am. 

 

God soften my heart. Allow me to touch people in beautiful ways like this. Allow me to pray for pain even when it is not my own. 

 

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About Kate Hurley

Hello there! My name is Kate Hurley. I am a singer songwriter, worship leader, writer, and teacher based out of Boulder, CO. (go to katehurley.com for more about me and free downloads of my music.) I am single, but I am not a loser. Just wanted to get that straight. For more about me and free downloads of my music, go to katehurleymusic.com. For a bit more bio, go to the about page.

6 responses »

  1. Beautiful. Thank you for letting your heart be touched as your head was washed. And thank you for sharing. May God make you aware of his presence as you walk through the pain, and joys, of life.

  2. Excellent post and what a good point, a good lesson. I’m often struck by my own selfishness when I see the heart of giving in many of those around me. And holidays are maybe when we need the lessons the most.

  3. Pingback: The River Walk

  4. This is so inspiring and beautiful. God bless you through this time in your life. I have been there and it does take time to heal. I pray if those desires of your heart align with God’s will in your life, it will be so for you. May God bless you and keep your heart open to love and compassion.
    :)

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