Late in the spring semester of my junior year of college, Tony Campolo spoke in chapel. I remember that day because it was the first time since I’d returned from studying abroad that I didn’t get angry with the speaker. I didn’t cringe at exhortations to personal holiness or grit my teeth against “Jesus wants to be your best friend” appeals because Tony didn’t talk like that.
Instead he told a heart-wrenching story about restoring the dignity and childhood of young prostitutes, little girls, in Haiti by buying them ice cream and watching Disney movies instead of buying their bodies. If only for the night, he showed them love and compassion.
As he told the story, I cried tears of empathy.
This tear-stained service signaled the first sprinkles in a series of salty manifestations of the heart movements that ultimately pointed me to God.
From then on, I cried at every story of sacrificial love and restoration and reconciliation that came across my ears.
The first time a friend casually told me about the transformational work of Plant With Purpose, I blubbered like a mother at a wedding.
Eventually this stirring led me back to belief in God, the outrage I felt at injustice pointing to a God of justice and love. My own desire to see things be made new became a testament to the One who makes all things new.
I came to see this passion as the proof of God working in me.
I still see it that way. I still believe God allowed me to experience a bit of His love for the poor and forgotten. I still consider it the greatest gift ever given to me to use my skills and talents and time to support families as they break free from a vicious cycle of poverty.
I know that ending my time at Plant With Purpose does not mean I no longer care about the poor or that I’m selfish awful person (although sometimes I find myself fighting those lies).
But a week out of quitting my job at Plant With Purpose and a year out of feeling burned out by the work that I used to enjoy so passionately, I have found myself perplexed.
Where is God when I am no longer a part of this redemptive work?
Where is God when I’m no longer moved to tears, when passion gives way to apathy?
If my passion pointed to God, does my apathy point to an absence of God?
How do I know He is here when I don’t feel that passion? When my compassion meter feels broken?
Will I ever be passionate again?
Honestly, these last few weeks have been filled with doubt. Not necessarily in my belief in who God is, but in my own ability to hear from God, to decipher His voice. I don’t know how He speaks to me outside of my identity as Aly Lewis, Staff Writer and Grants Specialist. I don’t know how or when He will restore my passion. There are a lot of things I don’t know, and I don’t like it one bit.
I’ve been praying for confirmation and validation that I’m making the right move, that He has good things planned for me in Guatemala, that He will restore my joy. But all I’ve heard and felt has been silence.
And in silence, in isolation, fear festers.
But this weekend, this blessed weekend, I was reminded that I am not alone. That I am not on this journey alone and that I don’t have to hear from God alone.
It was pure gift and that’s all I’m going to say for now. You will have to check back tomorrow to read about the incredible send off my friends-who-are-like-family gave me this weekend, and how I was reminded that—thankfully—“hearing from God” has never been a solitary thing for me.
See you tomorrow!