Friends, I have such a heavy heart today. Also my stomach, my chest and my throat feel like they are being sucked slowly into the ground. And why? Everything. Because of everything. Everywhere. Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq. Ebola. Friends who are grieving or ill. Small burdens and gigantic ones. I am feeling the weight of the world.
My day began with weeping because I looked at news headlines on my phone before I got out of bed (yes, a habit that I need to break right away.) And through the morning, I am seeing awful pictures and stories everywhere. I don’t watch the news, and don’t get the newspaper. I am too sensitive to stomach all of the stories on a daily basis.
But this is different. These stories must be seen and heard. On the one hand, I want to hide completely, and just not know. On the other hand, this is my world, these are my fellow humans. It could be me. It could be you. I can’t ignore it.
I am trying to find that space between total heartbreak and disbelief at the horror and suffering in the world today, and experiencing gratitude and being present for my privileged and peaceful life. I’m not sure how, though.
I imagine that many of you are feeling the same way. I don’t have anything easy or tidy to say about how to handle this. But I can share some thoughts and ideas of how to help others and yourselves in the midst of so much devastation around us.
Bearing it a little better…
1. Talk about it. Share the stories that matter to you.
2. Help those who are helping. I cannot go there, but others have chosen to. Find out who is helping, and how you can contribute. Again, the need feels overwhelming, and it’s easy to shut down and feel that you cannot make a difference. But you can. Your money helps. To be honest, I don’t know all of the resources here.
- Here’s one organization who is helping Iraqi Christians who have fled ISIS. Christian Aid is donating food, and basic survival supplies, and Open Doors is also helping in the effort.
- UNWRA is providing emergency relief to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, and the Disaster Emergency Committee here in the UK is also providing medical supplies, food, and shelter.
- Here is a long list of organizations that are helping Syrian refugees.
- A friend of mine who lives in Ukraine has told me that Jeremiah’s Hope runs great programs for children, and is offering their facilities to house refugees at this time. She said that it’s where she would offer her own money, so I wanted to link to it for you to consider supporting.
- [Update: It’s now 2015, and Syrian refugees are the heaviest on my heart. I have been giving to Migrant Offshore Aid Station.]
3. Pray or send heartfelt thoughts of healing. The idea of praying for everyone, everywhere is too much for me. This morning, I focused my attention on one child in Iraq (a face that came to my mind,) gave her a name, and prayed for her. I have been praying for her family, too. I can do that. The need is overwhelming, so bring it in to a scale that you can handle.
4. Love your family. I cannot feed hungry refugees dinner tonight. But I can feed my family. I can love them, tell them what they mean to me. Life is fragile, yet my small world of daily life is peaceful and frankly wonderful right now. What good is any of that if I can’t allow myself to experience it?
5. Love your neighbors. Give kindness and generosity to those around you. Have someone over for dinner, or send someone a card or a gift. Help a new mom out, offer to babysit. Give something frivolously fun to a sad or exhausted friend. Volunteer in your community, or even just show up to celebrate or support someone you know. Choose to be compassionate when someone is unkind or rude. Just be a part of the good that is in the world.
6. Take care of yourself. It’s not selfish– it’s a basic requirement for being able to show up for others. I am prone to sadness, particularly when faced with massive heartbreak around me. At least I know this by now, and know that I have to give myself extra grace and care, so that I can keep being present in my own life and for my family. Here is a list of self-care ideas that I find helpful. I’d also like to add gardening. I think it’s an incredibly hopeful act. I got a potato cylinder going today.
7. Contribute to positive change in the world. Don’t forget that there are a lot of ways that we can be positive contributors all over this world! I feel that it’s especially important right now to empower women in developing countries– I believe that they are the key players in fighting poverty.
Personally, I love what Heifer International is doing, and I want to participate.
Image from Heifer International
8. Give yourself a break from the news. It’s overwhelming, and it’s OK for you to take a day or two off of the news headlines. Recharge, focus on the good around you, and allow yourself some renewal when you need it, so you can engage more effectively.
There is so much need in the world, so much heartbreak. And there is also a whole lot of love and hope beauty, too. Can we take both in at the same time? I’d like to try.
How do you handle the weight of the world in times like this? What makes a difference for you?