How Does a Heart Stay?



I read recently on Ann Voskamp’s blog a piece that she posted back in July.  One sentence she wrote, not only pricked my heart, it sliced it wide open. Part of the solution to poverty is doing whatever it takes to get your heart to stay with the poor.My mind started reeling with all of the possible ramifications of that one single statement.  One extravagance at a time was laid bare, exposed for the folly that it can be in a daily life of relative ease.  It’s not often that I go deep here.  I want to go deep today.  For myself.  I need to go as deep as this thinking will take me today. Because, I have been remiss.


I read that one line, and it upended me.  I must have sat, slack-jawed, for a good 2 minutes before I understood the gravity of her point.  It would seem that I’ve let my heart roam much too far down Comfortable Street and away from the poor.  I don’t believe that I’ve done all that I am ABLE to do to get my heart to stay with the poor – because it’s “the poor”.  It’s Them.  Not my family.  But it is – My Family.  The precious little ones, among the poor, rest especially uneasy on my heart today.  I’ve allowed my heart to stray toward Comfort and away from Responsibility.  I want, now, to give enough of myself that it feels uncomfortable.


Comfort is so easily taken for granted.  I think of our sweet 9 year old Benson, whom we sponsor through Compassion International, and our newly found 5 year old Joan, whom we also sponsor.  And it grieves me to know that we’ve gotten a letter from one, written in their almost perfect penmanship, telling how their mother “has passed, but I give God good thanks for you sponsor of me.” I am imagining my own children.  Left behind.  With nothing but joy for the opportunity.  And I can’t.  I. Can. Not. Imagine!


The sense of urgency I feel, now, is palpable; for I am able!  I am able to do more than I do.  I am able to show how much their situation in life grieves me by giving more than I do.  I’m not just talking about monetary giving, necessarily; no. I’ve been there and done that and my heart grew cold.  Apathy crept in and took up residence as I continued down the aisle of “Easy”.  I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable each time I zero in on my own needs to the exclusion of the poor among us. How can my heart remain calm when my sweet Benson and Joan are living in a shack, the size of Sweetgirl’s bedroom, likely with no light, little food, and possibly no place to lay their weary heads? And yet… With thankful hearts that are overflowing with joy for the knowing of this Jesus whom I claim to follow. How?


Maybe, just maybe, there is a thing being worked out in me that I have been roadblocking at every turn. Until now.  This upending of my heart?  It’s painful.  It’s shameful.  It’s depressing.  And…


It’s hopeful.


For, if Iam indeed able, then I am indeed responsible. And if it has been laid upon my heart, then I am aware.  And awareness + ability = compassion that can flood the darkest recess.  The most hope-less reaches. The altogether unlovely amongst us.  Amongst us! Amongst my own circle of influence, the least of these, and my entire earthly family. Yes, Lord; Yes, Lord; Yes, Yes, Lord!


So, as I head into this Christmas, this time of rejoicing in The Most Spectacular Gift Ever Given, it is my hope that this great sense of overwhelming compassion that I feel will stay with me. Will prompt me to move. All year long. And evermore. Amen!


8 thoughts on “How Does a Heart Stay?

  1. This one hit home…so much so that it took me a while to be able to comment. And I’m still kind of speechless. Like…I don’t know where to start (with my own self, you know?). Anyway, this is good, and very thought-provoking. Chewing, chewing, chewing…

    • Believe you me! I’m still chewing and my teeth are still rattling – it feels like so many rocks in my mouth. Sigh… one thought, one moment at a time, right? So glad you were touched, Christina!

  2. Missy, I have been feeling this same way. For awhile, everywhere I looked was a need and what you described resonated in me “It’s painful. It’s shameful. It’s depressing. And… it’s hopeful.” How to balance all those emotions…those of being so thankful for the blessings we have, even enjoying them, because God’s heart is that we would, yet also being moved with compassion to help others with less. My heart tends to swing one way or the other…comfortable and content in my ease while forgetful of others, or depressed and overwhelmed for the poor, feeling shameful that I have so much. But like you said, “awareness + ability = compassion that can flood the darkest recess.” I can be hopeful and thankful that God’s made me able. Anything I give is an opportunity to show His compassion and bring light in the dark. So I’m with you this season, seeking to keep my heart with the poor. Thanks for sharing your heart, friend!

    • “Anything I give…” – YES! I think that captures exactly what I was feeling and trying to reason out as I had all of these thoughts. I’m so glad we are traveling the road together, Jacqui! So glad, indeed.

  3. And if this sense of compassion *does* ever leave you, for whatever reason, whether through crisis, life’s busyness, or some other aspect of living in this fallen world, simply remember: “Part of the solution to poverty is doing whatever it takes to get your heart to stay with the poor.”

    “Doing what it takes” sometimes, for me personally, means just doing *something* to ensure I stay conscious of it. I have a new understanding of how God intended fasting to work: it was used when a reminder was needed and could not, for the moment, be propelled by passion.

    This was a great and inspiring post, Missy. So glad to read that I’m “not the only one” when it comes to looking around and noticing how attached I am to easy.

    • That suggestion is brilliant, Fae Lady! Just keeping the very thought of the poor as close as possible to my heart, is key. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder that I’m not alone in this thinking. 🙂

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