Heartbreak and a Painfully Short Memory

icm kids

I have to have my heart broken.


On purpose.

As often as I can, I take myself to the places where the broken, hurting, fallen pieces of the world are un-ignorable. Where they slap you across the face and demand to be recognized.

I go to the places where pain and sickness and poverty and destruction are common and accepted and all over the place. I love these places, not because I’m a masochist or because they make me feel like a martyr, but because I think they are beautiful and honest and raw. Because the people are incredible. And because they set my heart on fire.

Because in my regular life in Chicago, the brokenness hides. It’s absolutely there, but it rests unacknowledged behind garage doors and too-big houses and beautiful, enviable style. And in my regular life in Chicago, it is so absurdly easy to forget.

I forget what is important.

I forget what is real.

I forget what this whole big, beautiful, messy life is all about.

I’m like the Israelites wandering in the desert with my painfully short memory that refuses to remember that God is right here in our midst. I don’t see him for a second, and all of a sudden I’m rudderless, building up my golden calves as a means to divert my attention away from my uncertainty.

I am really bad at remembering. 

I’m someone who has built my career around global poverty, and still I forget almost instantly. I forget the whole messy, beautiful, devastating truth of our world. I forget how broken things can be, and therefore I forget my call.

So I make myself return. Over and over.

And my heart breaks again. Over and over.

I’ve traveled enough that it doesn’t surprise me anymore – the little bare feet and the hungry bellies and the homes that could topple at any minute. I don’t feel shock. Resignation, maybe. Or something that resembles the soreness that comes after an injury. Gnawing. Unavoidable. Expected, but no less painful.

It doesn’t surprise me, but is sure as hell hurts. 

And every time I see it – every time I make myself remember – I feel the ache, but I also feel my purpose. Because this is IT for me. This is where I see God. This is where I feel alive. This is where I know what I’m about.

These broken, hurting places? They are real. They are beautiful. And they demand and deserve my attention.

So here I am.


I am currently traveling in the Philippines alongside International Care Ministries , an incredible organization serving the needs of the ultra-poor – those living on less than $0.50 USD/day. Meeting these beautiful people has been such a gift, and I’m thankful to the team at ICM for welcoming me into their work so well. 


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