I Don’t Feel Guilty

I just returned from a third world country riddled with extreme poverty- the kind that sucks your breath from your body and causes a physical reaction.

I’m filled with smells and sights and stories I’ll never forget- not just from strangers, but friends. Friends like Annette, who live and work at Mercy House. She’s not an employee, she’s a sister.

Annette making our favorite Kenyan food, Chipati

I love this woman: Her quiet demeanor, beautiful smile, and talent for cooking! But her deep love for Christ doesn’t hide the pain in her eyes. The pain of loving and losing, the pain of leaving her children in her sister’s care so she can provide for them.

She takes two days a week off to go and see them. I handed her a bag with candy and small gifts. “Take these to your children. I’m sorry you have to leave them each week,” I said feeling so guilty as I watched mine play in the dirt nearby. Her eyes spilled with gratitude. “Please don’t feel bad. With this job, I am providing them a good life. They are happy. I can pay their school fees and much more … they can eat now.”

They can eat now.

Those words haunt me. I can’t help but think of my children, bellies round, full, when she speaks of hers. We are both mothers-different, yet the same. I gave her a deep, long hug, understanding her sacrifice. Recognizing her thankfulness.

I watched her walk away, home, her steps light.

We have five full time employees at Mercy House, plus a part time driver. Every one of them support many relatives with their salaries. Every one of them come from humble backgrounds we cannot fathom. They have known pain and suffering that could fill pages in a book.

And yet they all share the same: gratitude.

When I returned from Africa last year, I was riddled with guilt. I spent the next six months purging my life. And another six months responding to what I saw.

Friday night, when I walked thru my front door and the comfort of my home in America, I felt the opposite of guilt.

I felt innocence.

I felt the pureness of obeying God. The beauty of seeing His house of mercy being built on the other side of the world. The enrichment that comes from deep relationship. I saw hope in Africa.

I left with gratitude.

And that’s why I don’t feel guilty.

 

P.S.

Good, amazing, news!!!! Our sweet residents accepted Jesus into their lives!


Comments

  1. marfmomma says

    thank you for posting while you were over there. it was a joy each day to read what was going on with you all and hear about your journey. God is working…..

  2. says

    Thank you, sweet Sister, for sharing all of this. Praise God for all the young ladies’ salvation! Praise God for that hug you gave your friend, along with the candy and treats for her kids. Praise God for your obedience, your love, your life. I found it so comforting to hear that you felt innocence this time, coming home, instead of guilt. How beautiful!

    Praying for Maureen, for you and your family, and for all of your staff and girls. Was the baby born yet, who was due late last week?

  3. says

    Thank you, sweet Sister, for sharing all of this. Praise God for all the young ladies’ salvation! Praise God for that hug you gave your friend, along with the candy and treats for her kids. Praise God for your obedience, your love, your life. I found it so comforting to hear that you felt innocence this time, coming home, instead of guilt. How beautiful!

    Praying for Maureen, for you and your family, and for all of your staff and girls. Was the baby born yet, who was due late last week?

  4. says

    I think the words, “they can eat now”, just wrecked me. Sometimes I fear about not being able to provide the foods my kids like, but what about food at all? I’m just going to think on that for awhile.

  5. says

    I loved talking with you Sunday and your words of that hope you’ve shared here have been ringing in my ears since you said them- that this time around you were able to SEE something being done, be a part of something happening, something changing, something that is bringing hope. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. How so many times we become saddened by what we see around us and we grumble about it, we pray about it, we talk about it and how “something needs to be done”… and then… we go on our way, on with our lives… or we become so engrossed by the depressing view of life it gives us that we become jaded, cynical and bitter about it. But you, sweet Kristen have been a part of DOING something about it… the saddness has made way for hope and progress. It’s amazing and wonderful and so inspiring.

  6. says

    I can relate to the purging. After Ethiopia I took 40 garbage bags of stuff out of my house. I had a big garage sale and raised $ for wells!! Now I am really processing life and how we should live it. I still have SO many questions. I love reading your thought and perspective! Thanks.

  7. says

    I’ve been watching in awe as you follow this path God has lead your family down… praise God for your obedience and love.

  8. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. I got chills when I read the part about the residents joining our heavenly family! I will probably never meet them on this side of heaven, but can’t wait to meet them “when we all see Jesus!”

  9. says

    Kristen – I needed this. I have been home from Ethiopia with my beautiful boy in arms for four months, and I still cry hot stinging tears at night as guilt is exactly what coarses through my veins. I needed this perspective. I have purged my home, stripped our belongings, simplified, and invested in overseas ministries, and the guilt remains. The fact that I even have a refrigerator at times brings me to my knees. I don’t want to forget what I saw, but at the same time I want to truly LIVE. I want to rejoice and be thankful and grateful. I want to passionately pursue God’s direction in our life, and His plan for us – not because of guilt, but because of love – love for my Savior, love for the gospel, and love for people.

    Praising God alongside you for the salvation of the residents!

  10. says

    What a beautiful post! I see so many blessings in what you wrote.

    And now…I need to go hug my daughter and thank God we don’t have to worry about whether or not she will have enough to eat.

  11. says

    Hi Kristen. Today, I read all your posts from top to bottom of page, and I’ve been blessed. The love of the Lord is spread out over your family spilling to those you help by His grace, and over all the words written here ~ to God be the glory!

    Rina

  12. says

    i love your spirit. thank you for letting the Lord use you. im still processing so much, even after having been back home for 2 months. God doesn’t hold our “things” against us, only what we do with them. I’d say you’re being a really good steward of those things. we all just need to say “Yes, God” a little more often!

    And now, after you’ve said it to me for a year, thank you for letting ME live through YOUR experiences! :)

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