This morning I read a post put up by Scott Bessenecker, the man that helped develop and launch the Global Urban Trek program that began ten years ago, which I participated in during the summer of 2006.
It was an honest account of its lasting impact on the lives of students that had participated in this trip. Some felt compelled to leave their lives in the U.S. and live incarnationally in the slum communities of the developing world and amidst the poor. Other had felt convicted to live simply, but struggle with holding on to the kind of theology that seemingly contradicts the material, individualistic pursuits approved and perhaps encouraged by the culture in which we live in, here. And still others have become disillusioned entirely, disappointed with this world, with God, even, and have left whatever faith they had, behind.
2006 would be the year that would seal the kind of life I’d willingly choose to live. I didn’t come back from Manila feeling particularly called to a ministry, or enlightened by a vocational path I would immediately pursue. The “kind of life” I came back with was really a posture, more than anything else.
It would take years before I remember actually adopting this word to describe what it was, exactly, that I needed to embark on, from here on in.
Some time in Boston or in New York City, I can’t even remember, I had this hours-long conversation with a good friend, Chuck. We talked about too many things. Love. Music. Faith. He kept repeating to me this idea about what it meant to have a particular posture toward the world. It clicked.
Literally, I still have bad posture. My shoulders hunch over terribly, as if burdened and bent by some invisible boulder sitting on my back and neck. My father even once offered to buy me a back brace for my birthday – in middle school.
But while it might take a longer time to fix my physical posture, my soul has struggled and yet has stayed the course. My internal posture remains targeted toward a life that demands I give my all for the good of others.
It isn’t out of pity. I’ve since learned that the faceless mass we’ve easily identified as “the poor” are more than capable of helping themselves, and even, helping the rest of us.
It isn’t that. It doesn’t sit comfortably with me, the idea that I can provide a limitless supply of charity, giving hand-outs to the “have-nots”. What I have is hardly limitless at all. In fact, I’m more aware of my limits now, than ever before.
The “posture” is simply the desire to care, always. And that desire, my hope, stems from a place rooted deeply within myself that compels me, no matter how irrational or reckless, to love others.
This, is merely the kind of life I hope to live.
When I manage tear down all my drawn up images of how “successful” my future humanitarian plans will be, or quit imagining myself as this incredibly innovative social entrepreneur some day, stripped down to my bear essentials, naked I hope, lies my soul, still in the same posture as it had taken back in 2006.
Still wanting to do good, but more so, to love, without abandon. Because this is the only way I’ve been taught to care.