wrestling and being humble
by Kayla Raymond
Last week was Webert’s birthday. Things have been a little crazy around here, so we decided to sneak away to the beach for two nights in honor of his birthday and to refresh our spirits a bit. It was a great two nights away and I looked at Webert as we left and said, “that was just what I needed, I’m refreshed and ready to go back!” That was Thursday afternoon.
Friday morning at 7 a.m. there was a knock on our gate. One of our children’s biological mom had come to ask for money because her father had passed away. This wouldn’t have been an issue, except for the fact that she literally only shows up at our house to ask for money. She never cares to see her biological child that resides in our house. She never asks how this specific child is, how they’re doing in school…nothing.
It breaks my heart.
She shows up for money. And expects it. And I hate feeling expected of.
By 8 a.m. I had made my way to Simonette and was praying with the ViBella ladies. A friend of mine has become pregnant and while I want to support her, I know the relationship she has with the baby daddy is not very healthy. So, I had to have a hard conversation with her. I knew it was a conversation I had to have, but I felt awkward and truly unequipped to lead.
By 8:15, I was exhausted and wanted to go back to the beach.
I made my way to Rosie’s and wrestled through the morning. My emotions were all messed up because I can’t handle the reality of my life some days. I don’t want to be responsible for paying for strangers’ funerals. I never signed up for that part. And obviously I’m going to be emotional; this is my child’s family. But this family only shows up when they need money. And my heart must be black as coal, because I don’t want to give them a penny. What I really want from them is a pat on the back. A thank-you or a warm hug would be nice, too. I’m the one raising the child you brought into this world and I don’t feel like I owe you a darn thing, woman. Bitterness is such an ugly thing, isn’t it? Feeling entitled to something, even a thank-you, is such a gross feeling. Entitlement and egos are such a funny thing.
If we do help, she will think it’s okay to keep coming back every time she has a need. And, I can’t play that game. I don’t believe in that game. So, where do we draw the line? What boundaries do we set? What walls do we build?
All the lines, boundaries and walls seem so uninviting. So unloving. So not Jesus.
But, “God,” I cry, “I’m already doing so much…being a mom is the hardest job out there and I’m doing the hard part for her. Why do I owe her more?”
God has yet to respond to my cry. So, I continue to wrestle.
By late afternoon, an employee who works for me asks me for nearly $200 US because she needs to make a paper that will give her final ownership of her land. I have already helped pay the tuition for her five children’s schooling this year plus helped pay the initial bill for the land. All I feel like I have done now is entitled her to more money. She’s not afraid to keep asking, and again, who can blame her? It’s my own fault. And, again, I laugh at the irony of this whole image of entitlement.
The catch is that if I hadn’t paid for the land, her family – made up of six beautiful, innocent children who all have the richest brown eyes that melt your entire being – would be sleeping on the streets and homeless. I would have never been able to sleep at night if I knew they were without a roof.
I’ve given her a job and I’ve tried to keep her accountable, but when you’re feeding six little ones off $50 a month, it’s going to take a long time to save up all the money you need for land. I need to come up with a better job for her, that’s what I need to do.
I wrestle with these decisions almost every day. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I believe in empowerment. I believe in job creation. I do not believe in handouts, but there comes a time when you just gotta bless ‘em and give a hand-out. But, when is the right time to do so? Who really has the power to make these decisions?
The Lazarus Fund could easily fund both of the above situations: the funeral and paper for the land. But, is it right to give in these situations? Again, where do we draw the line? When is it too much? What boundaries do we set? What rules do we make?
This past week the Lazarus Fund paid for a man to have eye surgery because he had been in a bad accident. The eye was severely damaged and needed to be removed. I had no problem handing the $85 over for him to find relief and comfort.
By 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon, my daughter had a tight grasp on my finger and was leading me down the front stairs of our house to the ocean. We spent time dipping our toes in the water and throwing rocks in to watch the water ripple. I sat down on a large rock and was distracted. I keep wrestling on the inside. She yelled “mama” a few times and I kept wrestling. She finally gained my full attention and showed off a washed-up, empty coconut she had found. I felt guilty I couldn’t focus on her and the beautiful sun setting over the ocean. The way we were sitting, tossing rocks in the water, was picture-perfect.
If only someone would show up with the picture-perfect guide to “giving” and give my wrestling heart all the answers to her questions. I pray and frantically rely on the Holy Spirit’s leading for wisdom in giving. If only He could send me a burning bush every time I was suppose to give.
It feels really lonely in these moments. Truthfully, I allow the darkness in. In that moment, I let myself believe that I just may have a heart as dark as coal, because there is no way holy people feel this way.
But, because God, my podcast this morning was a teaching on how the thought “God won’t give us more than we can handle” is a biblical myth. It taught me three things:
- Lay something down. So, today, to the blogging universe and to God, I lay down my heart that is as dark as coal. I lay down my depression and worry. I give my headaches and sickness over. Today, I will sit and allow God to work in my heart and heal my physical pains of headaches and spiritual pains as well.
- Hand something off. When it feels like God has given us too much, we need to realize we can, in fact, share the burden. Sometimes I think I can do it all. I can help everyone and make all the decisions on my own. It’s extremely exhausting and incredibly stupid of myself to think so, but, because I’m human, I think I can. God has given us the church to carry the burdens together. I’ve been finding people in the Haitian community who carry some of them with me, but I’m wondering if there is a way to put more of the burden on the American church and community as well? You can’t see what I see every day, but what if there was a space where I could share more of what I see and the people in that space helped me make hard decisions, raise funds and bring hope. If you think you want to be a part of that space, I would love to hear from you.
- Give it to God. If I learned anything from this point, it’s to tell other’s to give their problems to God as well. As the white person, I’m quickly turned into a god, because I can, in some way, provide for their needs. People are quick to ask for things, because they think I can provide. Yet, another reason it’s so hard to decipher when to give and when not to. I don’t want to play God. I try my hardest to always give God the glory in all situations. Whenever I put money into someone’s hand, I tell him or her where it came from. A donor, out of faith, gave every penny donated to the Lazarus fund, so the way I see it, it’s God’s money and His way of providing for them. It’s not me; I am just the vessel. But, the people, they see me.
I’m so broken by all of this. It is such a hard world live in. There are so many people to help. There are so many lives to touch. I want to keep helping, but I wrestle with the responsibilities. I fight so many inner battles of right and wrong. We need to keep asking ourselves, is this for the greater good? Are we really doing good here or is this causing long-term harm? Am I playing god here or is this God truly at work?
We, mostly myself, need to strip ourselves of our egos. My ego gets in the way of God’s grace all the time. I let my heart turn black as coal and get all depressed and defeated before I remember how easily I can give it all back to Him. I’m quick to feel entitled of hugs and pats on the back. I’m quick to feed my personal desires than surrender myself to service. I’m quick to feel burdened. But how much quicker is God to take my burden and lighten my load? How He desires to give me all that I ask for. If only I were humble enough to ask. Give it to God, they say. I say, easier said than done, but I’m trying. Each and every new day.
So, here I fall, at your feet again, Lord.
How you have blessed me with a husband and a family.
I worry so much about this family.
This little one inside of me keeps growing and the situation on the outside can’t seem to keep up with what’s happening on the inside.
The passport and home study still haven’t shown up at our front door. We wait with such anticipation for these two things.
Lord, make a way.
And, the people keep coming to our gate.
The need is so great.
How your heart must break to see the condition of this world.
Lord, I pray to have eyes that see the things that make your heart break,
but my little soul can honestly only take so much.
I lay these things before you.
I ask you to make my burden light.
I ask for freedom from depression and worry.
I know you have gone before each of these people.
You have a way to bring them a better life.
You have a way to provide for them.
You have something so much better than what I could ever give them.
Show us the way. Give us wisdom to walk alongside these brothers and sisters.
Give us strength to endure the hard, long days.
Give us patience.
Give us eyes to see their hearts.
Give us compassion to keep on, keepin’ on.
Humble us, Lord.
Justify me in the name of Jesus.
Overwhelm me with your Spirit.