take heart.

I hardly ever cried as a kid. In fact, I actually took pride in the fact that more often than not, I would be the only member of my family not crying in a specific situation. It beats me as to why I found this trait admirable--whether it was because I had adopted a 'tough girl' persona to compliment my identity as an athlete, or it was an effort to counteract the innocent and naive air that my high-pitched voice and childish features...regardless of the reasoning, the sweet release of hot tears down my cheek rarely occurred.

However, with a recent average of about one emotional breakdown per week, this characteristic of the former Britni is long gone. My coping mechanism is shifting from a quiet containment of all emotion to a violent, weeping episode of grief, as God is revealing to me a whole new level of his sensitive heart. Each day that I walk through this world, it becomes more and more blaring and apparent that people are tattered and worn. broken. Any time I choose to willingly open my eyes, hopelessness is staring back into my eyes, harshly holding my gaze. What's more, I have discovered a whole new definition to the word hopeless...the woman who has abused her body through prostitution for years and now finds herself with nothing left to offer a man, yet the only people in her life are men who want more...the man who trudges through life with empty pockets and alcohol bottle in hand, only bothering to sober up for his son's basketball games, but debilitating himself to be a father in any other vicinity...the woman who lost her husband and her home, her family has long since abandoned her, and her frail and elderly body can't support a lifestyle of living alone...the child who was robbed of parents at birth due to a fatal disease, and is left to the chance of charity for survival...hopeless.

While walking to the coffee shop where I am sitting now, I passed a young boy being lifted into an ambulance. I observed those passing by, and noted that every person unashamedly gawked and stared as they walked by. We are fascinated by others in pain, in crisis, in trauma. You start telling a gruesome story of a brutal injury or a startling crime and everyone listening sits with rapt attention. Why? I have to assume it is more than just intrigue and curiosity. Humans were made for community and relation. First and foremost, we were created to commune with our God, and secondly to relate to each other. We crave hearing stories that we can cling to and relate to-we yearn to know others who can share in our pain and our joy, our heartache and our success.

So, brothers and sisters, where is this unity that we were so clearly created for? Why are these people suffering in complete hopelessness left to suffer alone? We are all human beings, from the most evil child molester to the most innocent, sweet old woman. We were all created with purpose in mind, all with the purpose of being made into children of God, all with the need for relationship, community, love.

I challenge you now: arm yourself with the penetrating, transforming love of Christ and stand to meet the fierce gaze of hopelessness. Stare it down to the ground and let growth and grace rise in its place.
Romans 12:9-16 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited"

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