“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery”
Oceans by Hillsong United
What breaks your heart?
What makes you come alive?
According to the filmmakers of “Give a Damn”? Documentary we should join these two questions when searching for our vocation. How difficult is it do join these two opposites, and make them work together for a greater purpose. Do we give a damn?
Today the three legends of “Give a Damn” came to our university (Seton Hall University, NJ). After the documentary they answered our questions, including the future and possible love life of one of them – with another adventurer of the poor. I was particularly inspired by their genuine hearts. At times, we enter service, mission and plain “crazy” adventures, with something to offer. “They”, the poor, need something we have – and we can give to them. Our sense of superiority makes us the saviors of the world, the solution to the problem. Yet we forget to recognize we are human and we struggle in service – we become tired, disheartened, depressed, disappointed, and the list goes on. Some of us simply ignore the problem – because if we ignore it long it enough it might go away, right? The three men on a journey to Africa show us that it is okay to stop midway and return home, or become frustrated and hide from the world. They are genuine in their struggle as humans, seeking for something, whether faith or community – they are us and we are them.
The voyage of repairing human dignity is not simply an economic problem or a political issue, it’s not even a religious one – it is a matter of the heart. Sure, we need money, sustainability, education, resources, and so forth. However, if our hearts are not part of the matter, we are giving lifeless water, food, and education. How many people we see who work in shelters, hospitals and soup kitchens, who have become so numb that they don’t care about their job. This week our student community went to Newark Penn Station, NJ to hand out gloves, socks, broken prayers and some hope. A homeless man explained that the shelters don’t function correctly because the people in charge don’t care. Well that might be just right. Now, I am not saying they are bad people – I applaud whoever embarks on such mission. But many of us have become so brokenhearted that we no longer care about the work we do, we no longer care for the people we serve, we have lost the meaning or our service and our lives. It happens to everyone, we are all human. I’ve become frustrated and numb after seeing the children with Malaria and AIDS, hopeless and tired in Haiti. This is why this is primarily a matter of the heart: because all of us at some point have given up. Maybe no one knows you have, maybe it was a moment of complete exhaustion where you thought you couldn’t handle it anymore, or when you decided to completely abandon a project. We must look at our hearts, heal ourselves and allow others to heal us – regain hope and meaning because if we don’t, our service will be empty and our buildings will crumble.
Service, is in part the restoration of human dignity, physical well-being and the healing of broken hearts. Giving a child a uniform or an education is no longer a material thing – it transcends – and gives hope, courage and humility. So I challenge you and myself to look deep into our hearts and allow for disappointed and exhaustion. Then, become restored and refreshed through prayer, community, and rest, or whatever makes you whole. Embark on this journey willing to be healed and to receive love; because though we may have much to offer to the poor, we have much more to receive from them.
Thank you to the Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) at Seton Hall University who continues to inspire people to serve and be healed through service. For more information on getting involved check out their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SHU.volunteerefforts