This is a guest post by my friend Kimberly, one of the Grace and Peace Gals, who live and work in in Cambodia serving women and children who have been sexually exploited. They courageously, and tangibly, bring hope and help into very hard places. I love her honesty about how hard ministry can be.
It was a quote, typed over Mother Teresa’s face, posted on Facebook that tugged at my heart one day. Her deeply wrinkled face stared serenely at me, her head tilted with a bit of a knowing smile. The quote was something to the effect of “People will [dump] on you. Love them anyway.” That’s a paraphrase. The real quote was much more poetic. I felt the good feelings, smiled back at her, and then kept scrolling down the page.
As I sit here now, with tears falling off my cheeks and my nose blocked by snot from crying, I want to (figuratively) punch Mother Teresa in the face. Her little smile? That was her saying: “You have NO idea how hard this is—to love them anyway. Just wait until you find out, then you will curse the day you felt warm and fuzzy about this quote. Just you wait, oh naïve one.”
I am finding it really hard—to love anyway. This deep ache in my heart seems to tell me Mother Teresa is full of it. Why would I choose to live in the pain of messy people who do messy, stupid things, and who hurt others because of their broken messed-up-ness? I could be living somewhere else right now. Surely it would be better than this?
I feel like I’m an insane person who is choosing to stay in a bad relationship because I keep hoping my influence will change the other person. That would be considered foolish in most places, but for missionaries, isn’t that normal? Isn’t it in our job description to try and affect change on some level?
When broken people (whom you love) hurt the other people you love… Love anyway. (What?)
When people hurt you, deeply and personally, and when it triggers all of your own wounded places… Love anyway. (Are you kidding me?)
When years of work seems to be of no use—not moving the line forward an inch… Stay and love anyway.
When you feel deeply misunderstood, with no hope of ever being understood… Love anyway.
When you’re so, so tired of drama and crisis because of poor choices… Love anyway.
When you hear scripture twisted in a way that excuses hate and gossip… Love anyway.
When the honeymoon of living the exotic overseas life ends and the depth of the brokenness that you are fighting looms over you like a giant… Love anyway.
When broken people cause all sort of havoc, and you realize it is your job to keep showing up and loving those people—and you don’t know if you have anything left to give… Love anyway.
When you realize that your own brokenness is ‘same same’ in God’s eyes as those around you and you realize that God loves you anyway. And when you get a sense of the profound mystery of loving people; and that it’s a dim reflection of a greater love (Romans 5:8); and you weep because it’s beyond comprehension, this mystery…
That’s when you realize His love for you is the only way there is even a chance that you could show up one more day… To love anyway.
[And when you find out Mother Teresa did not originally say these things, but took it from some guy name Keith Kent….love her anyway!]
Kimberly, Becki, and Rachel met while teaching in East Asia. After volunteering with an organization that worked with exploited women, they felt drawn to do this work full time, and moved to Cambodia in January 2011 to begin an adventure of learning and serving in the field of anti-trafficking. Learn more on their Facebook page.