Healing Takes Time

Today is the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Nepal.

I still remember the exact moment when I heard the news. It was a Saturday morning, and I had woken up early to go on a run. I randomly glanced at my phone to find several texts from friends, asking if I had heard about the earthquake in Nepal. I immediately googled “Nepal earthquake” and found story after story detailing a 7.9 quake that had rocked the country. And then I began to shake.

You see – I love Nepal.

I love Nepal with an inexplicable, steadfast, ferocious love. I’ve tried more than once to find the root of this love, and I have yet to succeed. My best explanation is that Jesus has birthed this love in my heart for reasons that I have yet to fully understand.

And on April 25, 2015, it didn’t matter that Nepal was a place I hadn’t yet been full of people I hadn’t yet met. Because of my love for Nepal, the earthquake wrecked me.

The hardest part was the not knowing. Not knowing the extent of the damage, not knowing how this would affect the country long-term, not knowing if I could trust media coverage of the aftermath, and not knowing if I would actually be able to go to Nepal anytime soon.

The uncertainty was excruciating, but God was faithful. I ultimately was able to go to Nepal, and although our trip was not exclusively centered on earthquake relief, being in the proximity of such a recent disaster taught me so much about brokenness and hope, pain and resilience, trauma and healing.

Fast forward to today.

Nepal is still hurting. Just a few days ago I read an email update from a missionary family who had visited a village near the epicenter of the quake that, a full year later, had yet to receive aid or support from anyone outside of the village. And that’s just one village among thousands.

In September, Nepal passed a constitution that led to an unofficial, winter-long fuel blockade from India that completely crippled the Nepali economy. Although the blockade is now over, between the earthquake and the fuel crisis, the country is still reeling.

Here’s the truth: healing takes time.

In our fast-paced, globalized world there is a new disaster on the news every day. When you pair that with the fact that technology has given us the shortest attention spans of any humans ever, it becomes far too easy to think, “wow, that’s sad,” maybe say a prayer, and move on with our lives, while the people who are hurting the most are left to clean up the mess alone.

Hear me out on this – I am not advocating for you to get intimately involved in every disaster. Compassion fatigue is real, and jumping from one disaster to the next only continues to feed your ability to forget about any pain that is not directly in front of you.

But, I am asking you to do a heart inventory in order to rediscover those things that break you. Find the things that jolt you out of your comfortable world and wreck you. And once you’ve found those things, pour into them! Because healing takes time. For every disaster there are years of rebuilding. And if we allow our culture to sell us a short attention span, we won’t ever stick around long enough to see healing through to completion.

So here’s my challenge for you today – do some follow up. Call that friend who lost their parent last year and ask how they’re doing. Pray again for those little village girls who stole your heart all those years ago. Ask your coworker who got the cancer diagnosis six months ago if you can make them a meal this week.

One year later – how will you respond? Are you willing to put in the hard work it takes to help someone heal?

Just remember, longevity speaks volumes about the depth of your love.

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“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
it will not come near you.”
Isaiah 54:10-14

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Grandpa Roy

The rush has finally slowed down, and for the first time all evening, I can breathe. I’ve survived another Monday of frantically making mini pizzas for the almost 1000 students who funnel through our cafeteria on a weeknight. As I am collecting my thoughts, I look up to see a welcome and familiar sight: Grandpa Roy has arrived!

For those of you who don’t attend my school, Grandpa Roy is a wonderful elderly man who has adopted our campus. During most weekday lunches and dinners you can find him sitting in the cafeteria at the same round table, reading the newspaper or talking to students. He is known for being a good listener, having an infectious smile, and giving away hundreds of flowers from his garden.

Every Monday night at seven, Grandpa Roy comes into the part of the cafeteria where the food is served and gives each of the workers a flower. At the end of a long shift, it never fails to make my day. I always pin mine to my name tag until I get home, and then I put it in a little dish of water. By Tuesday morning, the tight bud will have opened, and for the next few days the cheery little blossom will brighten my bedroom.

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Every time I see Grandpa Roy, I think to myself, “I want to be like him when I grow old.” So many elderly people in our society are grumpy or bitter, but Grandpa Roy is exactly the opposite, a bright spot of joy in a weary world.

I truly believe Grandpa Roy has found the secret to aging gracefully: keep pouring out. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with retiring from your job, I also don’t think there ever comes a point when you should retire from your calling, or “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Frederick Buechner) The Bible never says to love your neighbor until you turn sixty-five and start collecting social security, and I think Grandpa Roy beautifully exemplifies loving well until the end. Someday your time on earth will end, but until then, you have a reason to be here. Whether you’re twenty, or eighty, God wants you to be his agent of redemption in the world.