When the heart needs to hurt

I just may have trumped Jamie the Very Worst Missionary in the worst missionary category. I love her blog, I do. Love reading about her not-so-perfect life and I’m not even offended when she uses the, shall we say ‘slang’, of the day. I think we could be friends because she’s real and I’m wanting so hard to be real and I could be real with her. All the time kind of real.

Maybe that’s what I’m about to be here with you when I tell you that the week I spent on my first ever mission trip to Haiti, a country so steeped in political corruption that keeps their own people mired in poverty, that country close enough to our shores its people have set out on rafts to come here for better lives, yes, the mission trip there didn’t steal my heart. My soul isn’t bleeding for its soil and I’ve not dropped to my knees every day praying for those dear children living in a place that offers them safety, but few options for more.






I was the old girl on the team, older than some of my teams mama’s including my co-leader. I wasn’t in tears our last day there. I wasn’t vowing to come back some day. Maybe it was my age, my life’s experience that tells me ‘this is how things are honey’. You come, you love as much as you can knowing you’re going to get to go home and they have to stay, and you say thank-you and wave goodbye.

When I got home I stood under our shower with hot water for a long time completely conscious I was wasting water. Completely not caring at that moment. And I flushed the toilet every time I used it. I didn’t have to use bottled water to brush my teeth with and it was wonderful.

I’ve wondered about this a lot over the 2 years since that trip. Wondered why it didn’t pierce my heart the way I’d heard others explain, the way other bloggers have written. Have I built a gate around my heart that strong?


Bethany Children's Home 2399

And I think, yes, yes I have. No apologies for it. It’s survival. It started when my parents divorced I think. A heart so confused and so hurt and so broken that you never want to be hurt again so, unknowingly, the bricks start to build a shield.

Then you work in an area that sees heartbreak far too often when men who have sought relief from addiction, relapse. Again. And again. They did well a long while, and you let them in and thought they were friends and then, then the behavior starts that you know will come to no good end. And they’re gone and your heart hurts and you add a few more bricks around your heart. But you risk it again. Because you know, God risks it for you day after day.

Bethany Children's Home 2473


Haiti did impact me. It gave me a deeper understanding of their lives and yes, I do love that place that was once looked down on by so many from my neighborhood (America). Their smiles and generosity and contentment with little found its way around some of those bricks surrounding my heart. Or maybe the bricks are crumbling. Just a little. Maybe grace is blasting away at those bricks each day. Maybe the heart needs to hurt sometimes to love.

4 thoughts on “When the heart needs to hurt

  1. Mama's Empty Nest says:

    Thanks for being real, Debby. I think every single one of us lays those bricks down and adds layers to that wall when we’re hurt. It’s human. We protect ourselves from the pain. And yes, even protect ourselves from the pain and suffering of others because it just hurts too much. My kids have all taken mission trips – some have gone to the same country numerous times – but I have not taken one. And sometimes I really beat myself up for not even having the desire to go on one. And I wonder why and beat myself up again. But I’ve come to the realization that not everyone is ‘called’ to do so because our mission may be in our own back yard. And if I want to be truly real, I have to admit that seeing the suffering of others doesn’t bring me to tears so I might fit into that category of worst missionary too. When God handed out those spiritual gifts, I missed the day when He gave mercy and compassion and I know that’s something I must work on, so I’ll be open to His tearing down my bricks too.

    • Debby says:

      I’ve never had that missionary call either, Cindy. When I was asked to go to Haiti I was quite surprised. It was very out of my comfort zone but I felt if I was looking for it and was asked to go that I should follow through. I’m glad I did. It didn’t awaken any missionary desire but I now can see how much visiting another country of any kind helps add to our understanding of humanity. At least it did for me. Like you, I’m sure the mission is all around us. Years ago I discovered the US Mormons come to FL to do missionary work (and other states, I’m sure). I thought that was so funny but I’m starting to get that.

  2. Annie Rim says:

    Beautiful honesty! I find the most impactful experiences have taken years to understand. (I never went on church mission trips as a youth because I was afraid I wouldn’t cry enough – I’ve never been a crier, but a more verbal processor…) Excited to see what God reveals as those bricks come down…

    • Debby says:

      Annie, I wonder if sometimes we, maybe just me 😉 have expectations of some grand revelation where really it’s just to see how the rest of the world lives and how God’s grace is offered to all. To sit in a Sunday worship service with them was hot, sticky, and without English translation. BUT….their dedication and joy was worth it all.

We'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.