Today, in my world the sun is shining and after a cold February, the weather is warming. You can feel that spring is coming, and the prospect of new growth, of wildflowers and green grass, of trees blooming, and gardens growing is not far off.
And halfway around the world, war rages in Ukraine. Mothers hide with their children in bomb shelters. Fathers fight in the streets. Grandparents assemble explosives, and families are, possibly forever, separated as their country is torn apart by a madman.
It’s the dichotomy in which I find myself. The part of me that embraces spring in Central Texas, and all the beauty it brings while, at the same time, my heart is so very heavy for what is unfolding in Ukraine. It’s not the first time I’ve found myself in this place. It’s the dichotomy which I seem to be facing more often and with more and more intensity as each year passes. The dichotomy of both living in immense privilege and blessing while also mourning for the suffering seen around the world.
The question I ask myself over and over again is, “How . . .?” How do I handle this well? How do I respond well? How do respect and honor those suffering and fighting around the world while still living this daily life well? While loving my family well? While continuing to be thankful for all I have?
I’ve had the privilege of spending time in Eastern Europe although not in Ukraine specifically. My daughter’s birth country is Bulgaria. The beauty of both the country and the people of Bulgaria has forever imprinted on my life, and I carry it with me each day in the form of my precious, sassy, passionate little girl. I’ve had the privilege of visiting orphanages and being faced with harsh realities of children who have no families to care for them. And if I’m honest, I’ve had to face the fact that so often, as someone who wasn’t raised in anything incredibly hard or with any measure of suffering, my own life can be somewhat shallow . . . and so I find myself asking, what really matters? What has not only an immediate impact on me but an eternal impact on others as well? Because when it comes to one or the other, I want to always choose the eternal over the immediate. I pray that my life goes beyond just fulfilling immediate needs and wants, not that we don’t enjoy and embrace the life we’ve been given, but that I also, look past just what I want to what makes an eternal change and what is eternally significant.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that God puts these thoughts and desires in my heart for a reason. So today, I’ll continue with my normal routine. I’ll continue as both mom and wife, taking care of the routine day-to-day needs and wants. I’ll work to embrace that fully, the ministry that is motherhood, knowing full well that there are mothers a half a world away that would love more than anything to go back two weeks or two months, to running errands and taxiing kids. And I’ll also, refuse to shut out the hurt and suffering in the world. I’ll refuse to send it to a remote corner of my heart and shut out all that is hard and grievous. I will “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) I will simultaneously sit in both joy and heartache. I will pour out my heart to my loving Heavenly Father knowing He hears . . . He cares . . . and while we are hard pressed we are never without hope even on the darkest of days . . . even when the world, quite literally, seems to be going to “hell in a handbasket” . . . not because the days are not dark, but because we have a Savior who gave everything so that we may live victoriously through Him and eternally with Him.
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:14-17