What Makes Me Insane

Screen shot 2013-02-04 at 1.59.33 PMDo you know what I would like to will tell you today? I would like to will tell you that my heart [literally] burns a [metaphorical] hole right through my chest in reckless response to all the pressing and painful needs scarring our globe (I wish to God I could be a part of relieving every single one). I can’t watch the news because whatever affliction my little eyes see and whatever sorrow my little ears hear always ends up with my little spirit getting ground down to powder, my little arms feeling bereft, my little love going unrequited, my peaceful little home seeming like too great a gift for me to bear and  . . . etc. etc.

We saw Les Miserable and I poured like a full-on faucet afterward, closing my shaking-self in our bathroom with “I Dreamed A Dream” on my headphones, desperately sobbing for hours. It isn’t hard for me to go to the shadow spots of any city whenever I close the lids on my soul-windows. Or slip inside the skin of a 10-year-old slave girl and feel at least a fragment of her fractures. But this time I swear to you that the whole oppressed and hurting world was wrapped around my body and crying for help right in the crook of my neck and I just had this burden that wouldn’t let go until my emotional reservoir had totally dried up of all the tears and all the prayers it had to give. The whole torrential episode felt like a Hoover-size dam had broken through and flooded every one of my arteries and atoms – very exhausting and un-civilized. Not to mention the groaning and keening that I worked so hard to keep behind my clenched teeth. I kept thinking that I couldn’t let this barbaric sound out of my throat because Lord knows how thin our old walls are and how close the neighbors live and the last thing I needed was for next-door Jimmy to think I was a premium candidate for the insane asylum. I would do anything sometimes for a piece of land big enough where no one else on the earth could hear what sounds want to come rushing from me. I would go out to that land and yell my lungs out against whatever sky happened to be hung up in the atmosphere that day. Seriously, that’s what my prayers look like sometimes – like someone has lost their freakin’ mind. My kids and my husband are used to it, thank God. Austin tells me it’s one of his favorite things about me, which is another way of saying that I married exactly the right person to compliment who I was made to be.

Please, someone tell me that God also made them this kind of “special”? Anyone else have a heart knit inside them that is just too big for their britches, let alone their bodies?

Anyone?

This passionate nature makes me shiver sometimes, but no matter how hard I try? I can’t stop feeling the way I do. Nor can I hide from it, regardless of the vulnerability that manifests on the inside or the embarrassment that flushes my skin on the outside. When I stop being me, the bad guy eats my soul for an early afternoon snack.

(And now that I’ve exposed myself, just like . . . affirm me or something, okay? :))

All that to say: Several weeks ago the Mr. and I watched  a movie from our “Instant Play” list on Netflix titled The Whistleblower, starring Rachel Weisz and Monica Bellucci. The movie documents the true story of a lady cop from Lincoln, Nebraska who took a job with the United Nations International Police in post-war Bosnia. During her time there as a peacekeeper she unintentionally uncovers a wide-scale sex slavery trafficking ring – only then to learn that most of her male colleagues at the U.N. were complicit in the trade. They, in turn, threaten her every which way to Sunday as a way of scaring her into keeping a lid on their illicit activities. She – fierce woman, hear her roar! – chooses to air her findings regardless of all the warnings and blackmail, even survives a number of death attempts while trying to get her information to the someone with enough authority to shut down the flesh-buying insanity. She loses her job, but was still able to get her evidence to the BBC, who consequently went public with the information.
.

What I didn’t tell you about the movie was how horrifying it was. Dark. Dirty. Brutal. Maybe if we had discerned from the preview that the depiction of this story was going to be so violently graphic in nature – enough to make me physically ill – we would have opted against it? Either way, let me tell you something:

I’ve been intimately acquainted with the anti-slavery conversation for the past 13 years. One of my closest friends co-founded LOVE146. I am not unaware of the tales of tragedy (and triumph). This movie wasn’t telling me something I hadn’t already heard about in some form or fashion. And yet, I crawled my broken heart into our safe and cozy bed that night like I discovered this atrocity for the first time, again. Weeping all over the IKEA sheets and overwhelmed down to my middle-class toes by the anguish in this world (a world where slavery is illegal in every country, but has more people “owned” then any other period of history), I dropped my forehead to Austin’s shoulder and we prayed together and the tear-filled words that left my heart were simple and fervent: “God, if there is one more thing I can do to help? Show me.”

When a weight comes, I have learned the sustainable power of offering myself to do just “one more thing”. Sometimes “one more thing” is praying until the heaviness lifts. Sometimes “one more thing” is starting a movement. Sometimes “one more thing” is sharing more of the resources we have. Sometimes “one more thing” is:

The very next morning I woke up to a Facebook message from my friend Laura Parker asking me if I would be interested in “blogging for abolition” on behalf of their non-profit, The Exodus Road - an organization that fights modern day slavery.

Let me tell you that I barely thought once before saying “YES”. Because what better way could I spend my free time? I can’t pound the pavement or storm SE Asia at the moment (although, in my imagination I’m always the girl drop-kicking all the bad guys and rescuing all the every-bodies that need freeing). There’s not a lot I can do besides give money, beat the sky with my prayers and use my words. Formerly, I was mostly active with the first two. And now, here I am asking you if you would you take a long, good look at The Exodus Road? Watch their videos and read their blog? Get to know their grassroots-kind-of-hearts? Maybe getting involved in their movement through time, money, prayers (or some other creative way) can be a “one more thing” for you, too? If everybody in the entire free world did just one more thing, I wonder . . .

Also, you can follow them on Facebook HERE.

 

Photo Source : Annah Kaden

34 Comments What Makes Me Insane

  1. Bethany

    First let me say how much I adore your passionate catalyst of a heart (even on the days you feel train-wrecked), the heart that reminds us to wake up and remember the Christ who came to set the captive free. I love this and am so excited for you to be writing in advocacy for those who need a voice. Blessings, friend.

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Bethany, darling . . . Thank you for all the encouraging sentiments. I am bolstered this morning.

      Love to you, friend.

      Erika

      Reply
  2. kelly summers

    I feel like that’s the way I was built to be–that passionate, overflowing, feeling way. But I’ve been discouraged and made fun of or thought unprofessional so many times because of my emotions and expressions that I’ve unintentionally been teaching myself to bury it all. But what kind of world will it be if we all stuff our hearts away and never let the real, the sometimes ugly, the raw come out, too? So I’m learning to let it come to the surface again. To feel deeply, even when it’s not pretty. Because He created me with a soul that takes in and feel everything, sometimes even when I don’t want to. I’m always so thankful for the way you share your own heart. And I want to be a little bit more like you when I grow up :)

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Awww . . . Kelly, let’s go find some wide open land and practice some raw together, ok? I’m so glad that you aren’t listening anymore to the voices that would shut you down and shut you up. Let. It. Out. :)

      Glad to know I have a kindred sister out there . . .

      Love you,
      Erika

      Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Even better, Rachel? You have a heart like yours and that hunger inside is gonna reach for mighty Kingdom things indeed. Carry on, warrior-daughter . . .

      And, thank you so much for being here and blessing me with your words. I am humbled and lifted all at the same time.

      Love to you,
      Erika

      Reply
  3. d.l. mayfield

    Erika, this is lovely. it brought me back to when my husband and i were on one of our first dates, and we saw “the constant gardener”. i cried so hard that i couldn’t breathe, and then i was cry/yelling at my poor new boyfriend that i had to DO SOMETHING, I THINK I HAVE TO MOVE TO AFRICA AND GET COMPANIES TO STOP TESTING DRUGS ON POOR PEOPLE. he was pretty freaked, but he stuck around.

    i am careful to gaurd this lil’ heart of mine, especially as i am now in a place where nearly every day i hear stories of pain and sorrow (a million stories, worthy of the movies) so i basically only watch comedies now. but we can’t ignore what riles us up, makes the damn burst to overflowing. because these are gifts, and they are directly tied to how the spirit wants to move us, in the flesh.

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      As much as I long for a quiet country life sometimes, d, I don’t know if I could ever leave my people here in the inner city – “a million stories worthy of movies”, indeed. It’s good to know that hearts like yours are spending time in the streets of another dark place in our land. Keep on, soul-sister. Keep on.

      Love,
      E

      Reply
  4. Diana Trautwein

    That big ole heart of ours is a gift straight from heaven, even when it doesn’t feel like it to you at times. You are one of the beating hearts of the body of Christ – not all of us are. But wow, do we need those hearts to keep on beating – beating the heavens, beating the streets, beating the keyboard, beating back the dark. Glad you’re using your words not, too, cuz that’s another one of you (many) gifts from the Gates above.

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      And you know what? I’m so infinitely grateful for the way you cast your wisdom into all our soil – I am strengthened and nurtured every single time.

      Thank you for being YOU and for telling me to keep being ME.

      Love,
      Erika

      Reply
  5. Diana Trautwein

    make that ‘now’ in line 4, instead of ‘not.’ Your commenting system doesn’t let me see the entire comment when I type it, so not proofing possible. :>( Oh, and ‘your’ instead of ‘you’ in the last line. Sheesh.

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Ha!!! It’s a good thing I have such great skills of deduction cuz I got ya figured the first time! ;)

      Love you, mama-Diana.

      Love,
      Me

      Reply
  6. Sarah Smith

    Erika, thank you for writing what you did. For writing and keeping on writing what you do.

    I think there is arising through the throats of us sensitive souls this primal scream of a prayer, an “I don’t know how to handle this God, and I know a lot more is coming!!”

    In a way, I’m glad I’m not the only one with these kinds of prayers rattling inside. I don’t know what the purpose of all this is, but I know our Father has a purpose in it all. That gives me hope.

    Thank you for always sewing the hope thread through your blogs!

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      You always bless me so big, Sarah. Thank you for “seeing” me and I am so grateful that your heart beats like this too. Let’s keep on with our crazy prayers, ok?!

      Very much love to you, darlin’.

      Love,
      Erika

      Reply
  7. Logan

    And this is why you and Laura Parker both hold places in my heart as “favorite people I l ow.” One who’s heart I’ve known since childhood, and one who’s heart resonated with me from “hello”. I love you
    Both so dearly. You are not alone

    Reply
  8. Kamille@RTT

    Can I tell you that you’re not alone in those feelings? Can I also whisper between the two of us that I cannot watch the news for the same reasons?

    I admire and respect my Ben so much and his tenderness for me, and people like me in his words, “You know, I think the news and internet and the ability to find out what is happening all around the world is more harm for people like you Kamille. You feel so deeply and want to be everywhere, but maybe before the advent of news people loved better by taking care of their right in their community neighbor. And maybe people like you didn’t ache as much.”

    Erika, I get you. The tears. The sobs and the pain. Hotel Rwanda did it for me. I was ready to have all those children come live with me. I’m certain that God stirs my heart for children for a reason, if not only for my own, but for those who are broken and have been stripped of their voice. Empathy.

    I promise I will click on those links and read more, okay! I love your beautiful tender heart. I’m certain you must be an INFP or an ISFP

    love to you

    kamille

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Your husband is a very smart man. I have often thought that we were never designed to know SO much. Yes, I can take care of one village and that’s about it, but now that information is global . . . every once in a while I’ll dip my heart in and see what the good Lord would have me do.

      I’m so glad we have this in common, Kamille. It makes me feel like I know you very much better.

      I loveth you,
      Me

      Reply
  9. Jess

    Earlier I read your latest blog post and was astounded by your candor. As I read through all of these posts I feel a warnth in a small empty space inside of me that makes me SMILE! I am not alone. I am not feeling any of the things that any of you are feeling EXACTLY, but I am FEELING. And I am always questioning, and wondering, if anyone else might understand what I am feeling. I, too, am so very sensitive to my surroundings and the eneriges around me. I take is as a blessing and sometimes a curse, but its all up to me to recognize it and take a deep breath. Thank you for sharing.
    PS: I love your photos and am so very happy for you and Austin to have found each other and make such pretty babies!!!
    And…scene. Ha, I’m a dramatic heart!

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      You are not alone, Jess! I’m so glad you settled in here for a bit and found resonate hearts within our stories. . . Thank you so much for your love and encouragement. :)

      Love
      Erika

      Reply
  10. Laura

    geez, this was gorgeous on so many levels.

    seriously. i am consistently inspired by you and constantly encouraged at the story God is weaving, the ways he gives outlets for our breaking-hearts.

    and yours is ohsobeautiful.

    loved this .. . will be sharing it lots and bunches. :)

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Laura – I can’t tell you how important this feels to me and I don’t know what my groove with TER quite feels and looks like yet, but I’m certain I’ll find it in time. Thank you for being a part of my story the way you have. I am so inspired by your heart and passion.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving all the encouraging words.

      Love you!
      Erika

      Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Me too, Lorie! Thank you so much for being here with my heart and leaving me such encouraging words . . . Bless you.

      Love to you,
      Erika

      Reply
  11. Jillian

    I’ve found that the car is a GREAT place to make those guttural sounds. When I found out about the Newtown shooting and the death count I was on my way to pick up my babies from daycare and I just poured myself out unto the Lord and and shouted and sobbed “WHY, LORD?!” You are not alone. I have NEVER once regretted my gift of compassion. I am thankful to be able to feel love in the fullness that we are meant to know, especially when I see hard and callous hearts. I’ve often been teased about it, but realize it also helps me have compassion toward my husband, children, friends, family, etc. And MOST IMPORTANTLY, I feel so close to Lord, as if He’s sharing His heart with me; letting me know that He’s weeping, too. Thanks for this post, I’m happy I stumbled upon it from Exodus Road.

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Jillian, that is my favorite part too . . . That feeling of being right next to the heart of God, sharing in His burdens. It’s a privilege and a gift like you say. So glad that you are a soul-sister and grateful that you stopped by today to be with me. :)

      Much love,
      Erika

      Reply
  12. Elizabeth Stewart

    I could feel this with you. I often feel too tenderhearted for the ugliness of this world. It overwhelms me. I have to accept that I may not change the whole world, but I can make a difference one by one. I’m blogging for Exodus Road as well. So happy to “meet” you.

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Hi Elizabeth! It is lovely to “meet” you as well!

      Thank you for coming over to share time with my heart and I look forward to getting to know you. :)

      Love,
      Erika

      Reply
  13. jamie

    oh erika. every. freaking. time. you slay me with glimpses of your heart. i think i’m meant to be this way, but was shamed out of it for so many years that i’m only now beginning to emote again as he heals me. the line that really struck me was “When I stop being me, the bad guy eats my soul for an early afternoon snack.” and this has been my story. but now that i see it, i can stand up to that enemy a bit stronger, allow jesus to do his work within…

    Reply
    1. thelifeartist

      Jaime, I was guilted out of my authenticity once upon a time as well . . . You’re not alone in the struggle to be who you are. I’m so glad to know your heart beats like mine.

      Love you soul-sister.

      Love,
      Me

      Reply
  14. Bethany

    I grew up so hushed that my body no longer tries to generate the kind of sounds that would fill a country sky… but I’m right there feeling with you. I can’t watch the news either; each new story presses with painful heaviness on my chest until I think my arteries will rupture. Movies and TV series do it too. I pretty much have to stick to dreamy feel-good shows or comedies because it’s all too much–the oppression, the injustice, the very real forces of evil in this world orchestrating tragedy.

    I’m so glad that your “one thing” came to you like that. I have purposefully avoided learning more about sex trafficking because I just. cannot. handle. it., but if you’re writing about it, I might be brave enough to crack open my awareness just a little more and read.

    So much love to you, my too-big-hearted friend.

    Reply
  15. Erika

    I just found your blog via A Deeper Story, and my gosh, it’ s like we are kindred spirits, right down to the name. (I don’t mean this in a creepy way at all!) but I understand how you felt, the tears, the what feels like thin-skin, the sensitivity, the empathy that you cannot shake, that is as much a part of you as breathing. I’ve fought it all my life, I’ve crept out of church services when they begin to talk about the orphans, the widows, the poor, not because I don’t care, but because all of the feeling sends me reeling, and I’m afraid I might break down. All of this to say, I get it. You are definitely not alone in this. I am finally starting to feel at home in all of my emotion, asking the Lord how I can turn it into some sort of action. I’m excited to keep reading more of your journey, thankful I found this space. Blessings to you, Erika. So many blessings and the precious grace of God over your life.

    Reply
    1. The Life Artist

      Erika! It gives me such a smile to “meet” someone else with my name (and spelling) AND who shares soul-similarities. Thank you for spending time with my heart and I hope to get to know you more in the future…. :)

      Love,
      Erika

      Reply

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