by Kayla Raymond

My last firm belief is all about love. Kind of cliche? Maybe.

Out of my love for God, this whole life has happened. Had it not been for that, I never would have had the faith to adopt my kids, start a business in Haiti, run Starfish, and a million other daily acts that simply get me through my days.

Since God asks us to love others, I try to keep all that I do focused around that one simple command. Simple command, yes. Much harder to walk and live out. There’s been a lot of hard lessons, as I’ve shared many over these last few weeks, but somehow God’s been gracious enough to keep my heart open to still loving others.

I always joke that ministry would be a lot easier if it didn’t involve people. And, the reality is, some people are just really hard to love. And, I definitely know I haven’t been the most lovable person along the way, either. It’s hard to keep trusting people, when it seems all they do is take advantage of you. It’s hard to keep letting people into your life, when it seems all they do is leave. It’s hard to keep loving people, when you always seem to be left disappointed.

But, God calls us to love others, so no matter how hard that plays out to be, it’s a belief and lifestyle I try to always live by.

Lastly, loving myself and taking care of myself has been one of the hardest things to learn. I think most all people in ministry would agree with me, self-care is hard to navigate when you’re called to a life of ministry and serving.

I think it would be safe to say that 99% of the people I know, who are working and serving full-time on the field in Haiti, are burnt out for more than one reason. Most of us are working 40+ hours a week. A lot of people live in confined compounds, never being able to really separate themselves from their work. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a home that allows me to be separated from my work, but the constant knocking on our gate, with people asking for help, reminds me we are always within arms length of unmet needs. Most of us are either being under compensated for our work or living under the stress of having to raise our own funds. The money stuff alone will burn you out. Most people go months without taking a day off. Most of us are responsible for more than we signed up for, navigating issues we’ve never been trained to deal with and make life or death decisions for people. Trauma is a normal part of our life, with no one there to properly debrief us. There’s so many unhealthy situations, with people operating under unhealthy people, situations and boards.

So, with all that to say, self-care is a weird conversation. It occupies space that we are led to believe shouldn’t ever be a priority. It kind of goes along with the theme of the good things blog I wrote earlier this month. There’s this weird lie we believe that taking care of ourselves and being the best version of ourselves is out of reach.

People keep asking, “when are you going back to Haiti?” And, the answer I honestly, truthfully want to give, “when my soul is healed and the fibers in my body are ready to get back on a plane.” And these days, it feels like it may take all my children graduating from high school and becoming an empty nester before I’m ready to serve full-time again. I don’t know. I do know, I’m still in need of God to do a big work in my heart and soul before I get back to my best self.

Loving God and loving others end up being the easy parts, loving oneself usually ends up being the last priority. So, while education and job creation and our work in Haiti will forever be my heart’s beat, my heart just may have to beat outside of Haiti for a while. In saying that, I’m so grateful that God has sent people our way that can keep our operations running in Haiti, plus opened up doors for us to further invest in Rosie’s and Touch of Hope stateside. All along He’s still teaching me and showing me that He’ll be taking care of us through all the seasons. So, here’s to a season of transition, limbo, and finding a way to best love oneself again.