A Farewell to 2018
I never write. I don’t consider myself a writer. I like to think, ponder if you will, and discuss, but rarely put things in writing. I think it’s because once you put something in writing it becomes more permanent and more concrete and I rarely find myself so firm in heart that I want to stake a claim when I know there is always more than one side to every story and always room for empathy and dialogue.
But today, I find myself wanting to write something because my feelings are too large for more thoughts and conversations and intellect. Today I am heavy with sadness and filled with gratitude, both at the same time. I’m going to blame it on the sappy holidays or recent general sadness of walking with a friend in grief because if you know me, feelings aren’t really something I like to do. I do logic and reasoning and efficiency. The truth of the matter is, logic and reasoning are just ways to cope with the overwhelming heartache that is our world in what seems like the most productive way to me.
Because I don’t understand how this is still our world in 2018. How is that humanity is still so cruel to one another?
2018. You have been hard. I know I have chosen a path that is not easy, but I believe in my core that it is right and the only path for me. Seriously though. Why so hard?! When I look around at the suffering of the world, I have chosen to not allow it to break me, but to go deeper. To look past the pain, the hunger, the genocide, and the brokenness into the root causes. The cause I choose to tackle daily is economic prosperity. People are desperate and hurting from something as simple as lack of a job. (Sure, there are plenty of co-morbidities so to speak, but you know what they say – money makes the world go ‘round. And how do you get money? Work. And what were we created to do? Work. So, work is where I choose to fight and try to make a difference.)
Sometimes though, the suffering breaks through in very unexpected ways. Take last night, I went to bed overwhelmed with sadness because of an undercover video my French teacher shared of small children being forced to work in miserable conditions to mine cobalt – the mineral used in making our cell phones. It broke my heart. Children working in the rain, threatened with beatings, and crying about their little bodies in pain. (This is where if you’re a Christian, like me, you can also insert a “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”)
And then today while doing the dreadful oh so glorious task of ironing my laundry, I queued up my saved Madame Secretary. This is a fictional show y’all. But, I’ve got to give it to them. They nailed it. The way they captured children being taken from their parents at the border and kept in detention centers had me wrecked. Wrecked I tell you. Over a fictional tv show that just hit too close to the heart.
2018. All year I have struggled to bring this vision to life for what prosperity could like for those around the world. Building any company is hard. Building a nonprofit? I’d say, way more difficult. There’s never enough time or resources to accomplish all of your goals and that reality means that people continue to suffer.
Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that my little nonprofit is going to solve the worlds’ problems and suffering, but I do confess, there are times when I want to throw it all in. I want to just have a “normal” job and go get coffee with a girlfriend. Or (gasp!) go on vacation. And I fully recognize that there may be a time when this is what I’m called to again. But y’all 2018 has been so so good too. I have received so many letters of thanks and appreciation and stories of people reaching “the promised land.”
In “the promised land” they have work, and can feed their families, and send their kids to school. They have dignity again and friends and hope for the future. God has been so good to give me the encouragement to keep going just when I need it, every single time. I get the privilege and honor to see new beauty salons, book makers, grocers, farmers, and shop owners in photos and videos, and sometimes even in person. It’s the most inspiring thing you’ll ever see. You want to #CheckYourHeart and get a new perspective on how to make lemonade from lemons, you need to meet our entrepreneurs!
So today, in the midst of my heaviness, I received another encouraging emails from one of our partners expressing his thanks for the program we developed that brought together 28 people to take a business essentials course, many of which had very little formal education and came from very far away to attend. He gave thanks not just for the learning, but also for the amazing time they had together, growing in relationship with one another and supporting and encouraging each other.
The amazing thing about this story isn’t that they were excited or hopeful or got new knowledge. The amazing thing is that this training took place in the eastern part of the DRC, the exact same country that undercover video was shot that broke my heart last night. And knowing that we’re helping to make to a difference that can prevent more kids being enslaved like that makes all the hard stuff worth it.
The other super cool thing about is that I had no idea they did a training last week! Our model is to empower local leaders to lead their own communities. Getting an email like this is what it’s all about.
2018 was hard, but 2018 was good. I am grateful for all it taught me and I am grateful for all the people that have shown up to encourage and support our little org this year.
So, to 2018. I say, okay, thanks, I guess. To 2019, I say, bring it on.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2019.