Loving People is Inconvenient

Haley Bodine | April 22, 2024

But when the wind shifts and the terrain of our souls becomes toilsome, cautious, maybe even cynical or selfish, we have to keep showing up and saying yes.

Uncomfortable confession: Celebration of Hope is inconvenient. 

There. I said it. 

I don’t like that I feel that; I don’t want to feel that way. But Celebration of Hope forces me to break out of my humdrum routine that feels comfortable—actually, that’s not true. My routine isn’t comfortable. My routine is too busy, often chaotic, and it feels like I’m just trying to take care of my kids as best as I can, be a decent human at home, at work, in my community, and take care of the way-too-heavy responsibilities of my own life. 

Can’t I care about helping others when my world doesn’t feel so demanding? When I’m not so tired, not so busy, and quite frankly feel like it? 

But…what if Celebration of Hope isn’t just about the world out there? What if the interruption of Celebration of Hope is God’s invitation to expand joy and peace and rest and hope in me

And so I embrace the interruption. I look. I listen. I learn. I hear. And the frenzy of my own little life fades away, and my heart realigns with my maker’s. My heart begins to swell Grinch-like to three times its size. I feel fresh oxygen run through my veins and my soul renewed with vision, purpose, and a commitment to combat injustice in all its forms—even (especially) the injustice of apathy in myself. My faith grows. My belief grows. My love of Jesus grows. I am transformed. 

It’s 11:15 a.m. on an ordinary Thursday. This morning, each of my children, my husband, and I filled up water bottles with drinking water, washed our hands, and brushed our teeth without thoughts or concerns of rationing water supplies or fears of disease. Most weeks, I wouldn’t even think about it. Who thinks about being grateful for having potable water anytime they want? 

But it’s the middle of COH. And I am interrupted by thoughts and awareness of the luxury of water in my home. COH leads me to pause and be grateful, but also look and learn and become aware that worldwide, millions of people walk long distances—an average of 6 kilometers— every single day to retrieve water. Many times, the water they get is contaminated. More than 800 children die each day from something as simple as lacking clean water.

Proverbs 3:27 came to mind: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (NIV).

In the middle of my lack of zeal and apathy, who am I to deny another mother clean water for herself and her child simply because I didn’t feel like it? COH allows me to act—to do something about it. Lord, forgive my ignorance and apathy; help my unbelief. 

We all love it when we feel alive, are passionate and excited, and believe we can do something significant.

But when the wind shifts and the terrain of our souls becomes toilsome, cautious, maybe even cynical or selfish, we have to keep showing up and saying yes. The world’s needs don’t disappear because our excitement to do something about it does. We easily say, “Yes, here I am!” when we believe that it matters and our souls are on fire, but when the fire dies out and our emotions are tired…we say, “Yes, here I am!” anyways. Because that’s what we would do for our children. That’s what we would do for our family. And now that we have seen and heard and learned the stories and met the real people—we can no longer say we did not know. We have a global family. And so we show up. 

The path of compassion and justice goes against the wind of our own emotions. We must act despite our feelings and know that, eventually, our hearts will catch up.

Years ago, I had a conversation with Willow’s Worship and Arts Director Jeff Boriss. Jeff said something profound about singing worship songs that stuck with me: “Sometimes we sing because we believe. But sometimes we sing so that we can believe.”

In the same way, there are times when we show up for the oppressed, the marginalized, and the suffering because we believe and feel their suffering and want to do something about it. But there are other times when we grow tired or cynical, and we must continue to show up to again believe in hope.

Changing the world requires grit. It’s counterintuitive. We want to feel like it. We want to feel the adrenaline rush of change, power, and wind in our sails.

But our action precedes our emotions, not the other way around. One thing that can hold us back from ever doing anything meaningful is waiting until our feelings line up. In reality, we might need to bravely step out to give, love, and say yes before we ever feel like it. Perhaps that’s the pathway to our healing, restored hope, and renewed passion.

And so this year, if you’re excited, on fire, and ready to change the world…pack seeds and give generously. 

And if you’re feeling jaded, too busy, too tired, or struggling to believe that saying yes to participating in COH matters…pack seeds. Give generously. 

Let your heart be revived with hope and belief that there is a good God on the move to restore all things. Join me. Join us. And let’s love God, love people, and change the world…together.