Don’t Just Grieve – Act.

aleppo

This morning, as an exercise in compassion, I imagined the crying man in this photograph is my brother. Like my actual brother.

Go ahead. Try it.

Imagine he is your brother and the photograph appeared this morning on the cover of the Dallas Morning News. The dead child is your nephew.

Or, imagine he is your next door neighbor and his dead child played with your live one yesterday.

Or maybe, the dead child is a student in your class. He died yesterday along with 17 others, when the bomb hit your school.

With pain this real, this close, would you not turn your life upside down to respond?

You would. I know you.

You would stop what you are doing and race to be with them. You would cook. You would pray. You would bring clothes. You would set up go fund me accounts. Whatever it took. You would pour your heart of compassion out on this family, this town, this school.

So what that this photograph was taken yesterday 7,100 miles away? Does that change who you are or what your heart is capable of? I don’t think so.

Don’t be discouraged. You are not helpless. He is.

So #LoveAnyway. Help this man like you would help your brother, or your neighbor, or your school. Here are a few ways to do that.

  1. Look at the picture again.Stare at it.
  2. Pray for Syria.
  3. Give to those working for peace, justice, relief.
    1. Preemptive Love Coalition
    2. Doctors Without Borders
    3. Syria Relief
    4. The White Helmets

The best way I know to deal with the heartbreak of this photograph is to take what I have in my hand and give it away.

This is Christmas.

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Not Everything. Just Something.

Every night for the last few months, I’ve crawled into my king-sized bed, slipped under the covers and thought about wet Syrian children shivering on a rocky beach somewhere. Then I pray.

Lord Jesus, thank you for my warm, safe bed, but WTF?

Most people I know don’t pray like that, but I do because it is exactly what I mean, and I’d rather show up as my grateful, confused self with the bad filter, than try to tidy up for the Infinite Omniscient, who discerns my thoughts from afar anyway.

Like we’re capable of tricking the One who names the stars. Please.

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The Pleiades

Worse, every time I try to write about it, I choke on the following question:

Why Lord, do some of us get trapped with our hungry families at a filthy, frozen border while others get king sized beds and yachts in Florida? 

I can’t square it, and so for months I’ve been paralyzed into total radio silence.

Whatever can be said by those born on third base?

But in Madagascar this fall, after an evening spent with 150 orphaned and foster kids, one of my friends stood in our crowded, little room with her hands on her hips, staring at the floor.

“Erin, I’m not handling this very well,” she said, and burst into tears.

I figure her American self was trying to square it, but she never will and I told her that.

“The world is unfair and the best we can do, is what we just did,” I said. Don’t run. Get in and wrestle with it. Keep engaging it until it’s clear what part the Lord has given you to play and what resources you have to do it.

Not everything. Just something.

That is how WE change, and isn’t that ground zero for changing the world?

So I was thrilled last week, when five authors I read and love, Liz Gilbert, Glennon Melton, Rob Bell, Brene Brown and Cheryl Strayed, did something for the refugees flooding into Europe.

Each of them, using their considerable social media sway, asked their followers to give $25 or less to help volunteers on the ground in Europe buy blankets, shoes, shelter and food for the refugees.

They raised one million dollars in 31 hours – in $25 increments. 

Pause and calmly consider that.

As a fundraising model, it’s wild because you couldn’t donate more than $25 – unless you logged in all over again. Therein lies the genius. Five unrelated people, who don’t work for NGO’s, used what they had in their hands – friendship and social media clout – to ask a lot of us to do a little bit. And who could be overwhelmed by such a tiny ask?

refugees

The fact is, this world is never going to square, ever, not until Jesus comes back, but rather than skulk away from that reality, feeling overwhelmed and guilty, why not stare it down; then take whatever’s in your hands and start shoveling uneven playing fields.

If the Compassion Collective’s story teaches us anything, it’s one person x 40,000 others can move an awful lot of dirt.

Be not overwhelmed friends! Happy New Year!


Need a place to dig? Here are five I love besides the Compassion Collective.

  1. The Los Angeles Dream Center – L.A. California
  2. Mercy Ministries – International
  3. The Preemptive Love Coalition – Iraq
  4. Mercy Ships – Currently – Madagascar
  5. For the Silent – Tyler, Texas