Day 10: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do // 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness
Hi there! This is day 10 of a series I’m writing this October called 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness. You can find the entire series here: 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness.
Ever feel like so much is going wrong in your life that you literally can’t articulate any of it? Friends ask you how you’re doing – the rare ones who actually mean it and really want to know – and you can’t even form the words. You could start, but it would take hours. Everything stinks, sucks, feels so complicated, and basically makes you want to go back to bed.
Sometimes everything just goes sideways at once. You’re on strained terms with your parents and then you have a fight with your partner on top of it. Things are off-the-rails stressful at work and then you get a phone call that your loved one is in the hospital and you need to come NOW. You find out something went wrong with your taxes and now you owe more than you expected, and then the dentist tells you you need a root canal you can’t afford. I’ve been there.
Then someone asks you how you are, and how can they pray for you? And you almost want to laugh, because you honestly don’t know what to tell them. Uh…can you pray that God will stomp out the dumpster fire that is my life right now? Can I get a break? Just stop the world for like ten minutes so I can catch my breath? Can you pray for Ed McMahon to show up at my door with a giant check for 10 million dollars? That’d be great. (Don’t make my mistakes and say that in public or they’ll all be looking at you funny because the prayer request shared right before yours was that Sarah wants to get better at being consistent with her quiet times.)
The other day, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with a different kind of brokenness – this time, not my own personal brokenness, but the brokenness of our country (which, in a way, IS my own personal brokenness, and yours). Following the horrifying shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday, while my friends were making articulate arguments for and against gun control and praying for those affected, I honestly couldn’t find the words. Heartbreak that this has happened again flooded my bones and my heart just collapsed under the weight of it. I didn’t know anyone who was there or who lost their life – I can’t imagine how devastating that would be. No, what I am feeling is the deep sense that things are not okay, nothing about this is fine, there is a profound need for change here. And the weight and burden for those who have paid the totally preventable price for our unchecked love of violence and weapons as a society. I started to reply to some things people were saying, but my words felt flat and sad. All arguing does, really, in the wake of something like this. So I turned off my computer and took a breath in the presence of the Lord.
And then, while everything was falling apart, I made apple crisp.
Sometimes when everything seems like it’s on fire and I feel helpless, the best I can do is love whoever is in front of me in whatever way I know how. Chris and I had been apple-picking on Saturday, so I had a peck of apples waiting on my kitchen counter to be turned into something cozy and delicious and soul-nourishing for the people I love.
Don’t get me wrong, I also donate and pray and try to speak up for policy change and advocate for people who are suffering and and and. But sometimes the internet makes me tired, and there is so much arguing. Sometimes I’ve done everything I can think of to help with my money, time, heart, and words, and the time comes to peel apples and cover them in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Sometimes that’s the next right thing. So that’s what I did.
When you don’t know what to do, do what’s right in front of you. Take a break if you need it. Love how you can. Do your best. If apple crisp is not your thing, hang out with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Do some laundry you’ve been putting off. Just do something small out of love that will make things a little brighter and better than they were before. Love whoever you can reach, in whatever way you can think of. It’s not enough, it’s never enough, but Jesus is enough. A day will come when He will sort out all the brokenness and the injustice and there will be no more tears. Until then, I’ll do everything I can to stand up for change and hold space for the suffering. But some days, I just make some apple crisp. Some days, that’s how I make it through.