I have always been a passionate person. I care deeply about the world and the injustice I see in it. I spent several years working in a highly physically demanding nonprofit organization that worked tirelessly to provide food to starving children all around the world. I care about the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, and the hurt of this world.
This passion can sometimes get me into trouble. When the world around me seems to be burning down with so much pain and hurt and physical need, I tend to head straight toward the unhealthy woe-is-everything place where I can do nothing, because I am too overwhelmed by just how big the problem is. My husband really loves this location on the map of our life journey….not.
When I was transitioning out of that job, that I loved fiercely, for a new adventure that involved moving, marriage and youth ministry, I was uncertain of what God had for me in this new thing. I anticipated feeling cramped moving to a middle-class North Dakota town when my previous situation had been living in a suburb of a big city, hopping on a plane and traveling to other locations every week.
I was scared about leaving a life that I loved for the unknown. Really, the only thing I knew at that point was that I had this seminary degree in theology that I wanted to use in some way and that I loved my boyfriend and wanted to marry him. I found out later, he bought the ring when I told him I got the job we had been praying about and I would be moving to Fargo.
Before going, on one of my final work events for this nonprofit, with many coworkers who I had spent hours traveling with, sweating with, staying in hotel rooms, and sharing a drink with after a long hard day, I made sure they knew that I would be transitioning from this beloved organization and moving on to a new adventure.
One co-worker, who I wasn’t exceptionally close with, gave me a word that I can only attribute to God speaking through her. She listened to what my new change was bringing and knowing me and some of my concerns, she told me: “Carley, I think one of your biggest life challenges is going to be choosing which battles you are going to fight, If you try to fight every single injustice, you will lose every battle due to sheer exhaustion. You need to pick which battles are worth it to fight and then go into that battle, with all your energy and passion. That is when you will win.”
Whoah. I have had to return to her words many times since. My anger and grief can totally consume me when I am confronted with injustice and pain in this world. If I am not careful, I will trample over people as they are on their own journey wrestling with this world. Or the alternative is to crawl into my hole of really wanting to bury my head in the sand and the temptation to watch netflix for the rest of my life. Neither one is an acceptable option.
Instead- choosing discernment and letting both passion and wisdom act as the guide is going to yield better long-term results. Choosing a posture of listening first and acting second and maintaining a heart that grieves with those who grieve and rejoices in the joy of others- this is my goal as I discern the battles God has called me to fight, trusting him that he has a plan for the other battles, and knowing that in the end, God’s kingdom will come fully on this earth and victory, peace and love is our future.