Dear Readers,

The following is a repost from an entry several months ago. It is a post I personally revisit often. And with the holiday season upon us in full swing, I feel compelled to share it again with you. So many of us find this season to be especially difficult. Maybe a loved one has passed away. Maybe a child has wandered astray. Maybe your husband can’t find work. Maybe your children are driving you berzerk. Maybe I just accidentally wrote a stupid little poem because even though life is especially hard lately, I gotta find the humor in the little things.

In all seriousness, though, may those of us walking particularly difficult roads this year join together in solidarity and one accord. (Even if, or maybe especially because, you would rather smash your ornaments against the wall instead of hanging them from a friggin’ tree.) May we embrace the LIGHT of the season amidst the DARKNESS that tries to envelop us. May we find HOPE in the Baby Jesus even as we await His grown-up promises to us to unfold. May we trust and believe and endure and yes, even praise Him, in the hard beyond hard beyond hard. So Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. And God’s peace upon you this season. Even in the hard beyond hard.

Together with you to the finish,

heidi


She was all hooked up. Ready for the Pitocin to start dripping. She winced at the thought of induced labor. And then, in a pathetic attempt to assuage her concerns, he let those words roll off his tongue, “All labor is the same. Labor is labor.” I wanted to kick my friend’s obstetrician. Where it counts. Right then and there in the matchbox-sized labor and delivery room. To teach him a thing or two about pain. Because having had giganto babies au naturel (sans Pitocin), I knew he was full of crap, and his patronizing attempt at comfort did nothing to acknowledge the real pain and ridiculously hard work my friend was about to endure as she brought forth her new baby boy right before my very eyes. And because there was nothing I could do to remove her from the pain, I was there for solidarity. To be with her in it and through it. Because that’s all she needed and that’s all I could offer.

The truth is, life is hard. And there is pain. And none of us is exempt from having experienced it or living through it again in the future. But no, Dr. Stupid Dumbhead, M.D., all labor is not justlabor, all pain is not the same, and all things hard are not comparable. Sure, a papercut from opening your mail too fast hurts like h-e-double-hockeysticks and you will want to cry it out like a Babywise baby and if that’s the worst pain you ever felt in your insulated life you might think you know real pain, but I’ll take a hundred papercuts sliced slowly across the end of every single one of my fingertips before I ever pass another kidney stone or have the bones in my face chiseled by a surgeon.

And if you’re a dear fellow sojourner who understands pain and hard times and suffering beyond the “life is hard” cliché, I know you get this. You get the feeling of wanting to pull a Mike Tyson on the next person who pats you on the shoulder and tells you, “Life is hard, but God is good.” Because really? No sheetola. Life is hard. Welcome to Planet Freaking Earth. And yes, God is good. (Amen and amen.) But sometimes you JUST WANT A BREAK FROM HARD. And no cliché, no platitude, no pat on the back, no sweet somethings from someone who cares will give you that respite for which you desperately long. Because when it comes down to it, you are in these circumstances beyond your control and wishes, and only the sovereignty of our God can take you through it and (hopefully, Dear Jesus, HOPEFULLY) bring you out of it before you meet your Savior face to face.

If this kind of living surviving day after day after downright hard day resonates with you, solidarity—not solutions—is my sole aim today. Because it doesn’t matter what your can’t-take-it-anymore pain looks like on the outside; you know what it feels like. You’re lonely. Tired. Drained. Ready for a new day. A new season. A whole new year. A break. And you realize it may never come on this side of eternity. And that realization makes it all the hell of a lot harder.

You’re a grandmother in your 70s and you’re raising your grandkids after their dad vacated and their mom chose drugs over them, so instead of road-tripping the U.S. of A. with your Lifelong Sweetheart in your paid-for R.V., you are dealing with the throes of teenage rebellion and forking out hundreds and hundreds for counseling. You don’t get to do what other seniors are doing, and you need some respite. And every day is beyond hard. 
You’re a mom with a special needs child and though you love him with every bit of every atom in every single cell in your entire being and can’t imagine your life without him, you’re absolutely beyond wiped out, because it’s just so damn hard to tend to him every single second of every single day to no end and none of your friends understands. And every day is beyond hard.
You are fifty years old and have your own family to raise, but you spend every minute of every day tending to your live-in, elderly, ailing father who can’t remember who you are and, though you love him with all of your middle-aged heart, you are exhausted and drained and have nothing left to give. And every day is beyond hard.
You adopted an older child who lived a nightmarish life of trauma and heartache before they were yours and they are unleashing it on you like a relentless tsunami and you wake up every single day wishing that you didn’t have to face another day of hell but knowing that you have no choice and you walk on shattered eggshells all day long because it’s just not worth another three-hour rage fest over the most minor of things and you cry alone in bed every morning because you fear what the day will bring. And every day is beyond hard.
Your child suffers from the lifelong, permanent effects of FASD because their birth mom couldn’t put the bottle down and so you sit night after night after night at your child’s side at the kitchen table just wanting them to sound out one freaking word from their homework and they can’t even sit still long enough to make it through the first sound and they’re only in the second grade and you can’t imagine every night for the next ten years JUST LIKE THIS and you just want a break from the difficult. And though some accuse you of having a pity party, you don’t feel sorry for yourself at all because this is your life after all and you embrace it but it’s just so freaking hard to live it. And every day is beyond hard.
Your house is in foreclosure and your husband is working three jobs just to put food on the table but ends aren’t being met anyway and the bills keep coming and the collectors keep calling and you can’t afford to do what any of your friends are doing and you bend over backwards to find ways to take care of your family’s basic needs but it’s not making a dent and it’s scary and lonely and taking an emotional and mental toll on you and your marriage and your kids but this is just your way of life and though God keeps giving you the manna you hunger for the ribeye that you see everyone else feasting on and the smallest financial inconveniences send you over the cliff because nothing is easy or simple when you don’t have money. And every day is beyond hard.
Your husband unexpectedly passed away one year ago and with him went all of the oxygen in your lungs and in your home and you are drowning in your own grief but you have to act strong enough to help your kids not get overtaken by their own painful loss and you keep thinking it will get better or at least easier and it hasn’t and you keep putting one foot in front of the other but it doesn’t change reality. And though (most of) your friends try to be supportive very few of them truly understand and some might even judge. They want you to pull yourself up out of the trench of hard times and join their festivities of the normal. But you can’t. Because your life is different. And every day is beyond hard.
Your child is sick so often you don’t even keep track anymore and you spend day after day and week after week in and out of the hospital and while you have the support of friends and family and money is no issue it’s just so difficult to keep it up but you don’t have a choice because it’s your kid and you would die for them but you can barely breathe yourself most days. And your head is barely above the surface of the raging sea and the salty taste never leaves your mouth and you gag with every breath. And it’s all you can do to tread water and not go under…at least not for too long that you can’t come back up. And every day is beyond hard.

Hard beyond hard beyond hard. Suffocatingly hard. Perpetual hyperventilation. And what makes it feel impossibly harder is that you can absolutely remember a time of life when it wasn’t this way. When faith wasn’t a fight and joy did not elude you and every day wasn’t a struggle.

And so you do what all humans do with our finite brains and fragile hearts to reconcile what doesn’t make sense in our stories. We divide our lives into seasons, chapters, segments of time—no matter how short or long. We remember those poignant moments that define each phase. We speak in metaphor of “walking in the wilderness” and “waiting for the Promised Land.” And we know exactly how many days and weeks and months and years our wilderness has lasted. And it’s been a long time even if it hasn’t been. And we yearn for struggles to cease and the blessings to abound. We scream when the Heavens seem silent and beg for God to rain down. We thank Him for the manna yet want to leave the desert after all. We cry out. Because it’s hard. Hard beyond hard. And we long for a respite. A season—no, a day even—that isn’t downright hard. That doesn’t greet us with pain and hardship and suffering and loneliness. And there are no solutions or Dave Ramsey Steps to Peace because this is your life for as long as you can foresee it and if there were a way out of it you would have long ago found it. And all you desire from others is solidarity or at least a semblance of it.

You are grateful beyond all thankfulness for the micro mercies and force yourself to focus on them daily—The meal spontaneously dropped off by a friend who was thinking about you—The check you got in the mail to help cover Christmas presents for your kids—The car someone loaned you so you could get to an appointment on time—The lady who gives your kids free haircuts—The nurse who was extra friendly to your child and got you into your appointment right away—The Facebook post on your wall to encourage you. But you long for the Macro Mercy of El Roi—The God Who Sees—whom you beg to step in and with authority scream ENOUGH! and usher you into your own Promised Land right here on Earth.

And truly you “rejoice in your sufferings” and all that it produces like character and hope and endurance. You “consider it pure joy” because your trials have grown your faith like nothing else could. And you know without doubt—though it’s tested daily—that the “glory that will be revealed in us” one day will ultimately make it all worthwhile. And you even feel and believe that “when you pass through the waters,” He is with you. You have followed God long enough and hard enough to know that “He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you” and will give you (eventually) that hope and that future. And friends close and strangers afar laud you for your unwavering faith and unshakeable strength and while you truthfully appreciate their affirmation you just want your present reality to give you a break from having to have that kind of faith and strength at all.

So, Dear Reader, if every day of your present life is hard beyond hard and you weep without words in your thoughts because you are living this present darkness right now, lift up your head and reach out your hand because I stand here with you as a fellow sojourner in the Wilderness of Suffering. And I will stand with you in your pain and you with me in mine and together we will offer one another

Mercy

Love

Grace

Comfort

Compassion

Prayer

SOLIDARITY

Because when every day of your present life is hard beyond hard beyond hard, solidarity is enough to help you make it—through another hard day…

so we can remind each other that our Savior who died for us and knows our sufferings is linking arms with us. And that Jesus loves me. This I know. Especially in the hard beyond hard. 

{Selam, Eden, Heidi, Simona, Bethlehem, Izzy}

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,

neither angels nor demons,

neither the present nor the future,

nor any powers,

neither height nor depth,

nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Romans 8:35-38

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forevermom

 

{The following is a guest post by a dear person who accepted my invitation and request that she share her experiences from the dark abyss of suicide. I applaud her for her courage in writing, and I trust and pray that her words will reach even just one. Please understand that only gentle and loving comments on this delicate and painful topic will be allowed. Thank you.}

 

When I was asked to write this guest blog post on such a personal and sensitive topic, I prayed diligently before agreeing because writing (and reading) this is such a tricky thing. It mimics the fact that you cannot say anything to an anorexic and expect the desired outcome. Any and everything you say to an anorexic will be twisted in their mind – always supporting their belief that they are fat and don’t deserve to eat, yet alone live. I can say that with all respect and honesty because I was anorexic. It is just the way an anorexic mind works. Very similarly complex is the mind of a person plagued with suicidal thoughts. I can also say that with all respect and honesty because I was that person also. Over twenty years ago, and with four young children, I attempted suicide three different times. (Even my anorexia was deemed a slow suicide.) Obviously, I failed—Praise God!—because I am living and am here writing this blog.

Church photo. Happy on the outside. Pain on the inside.

In preparation for writing this, I read a couple of blogs on this tender subject. I was touched by and agreed with one especially in her desire to teach others not to be critical or judgmental of people who have attempted or even succeeded in taking their own life.

In my own story, it was my eleven-year-old son who later said to me, “Mom, don’t you know that that is the most selfish thing you could have done!” I can’t even tell you how hard it was to hear such an adult statement from my young son.

But mostly, I was so hurt and perplexed. It was then that I realized that people really do not understand a mind in that deeply dark state. When my son said that to me, I was startled. Because in my [sick] mind, suicide would have been by far the most selfless thing I could possibly have done. I knew that my sweet husband and precious children would be so so much better off without me. I was pain to them. I was an abject failure as their mother and wife. My being gone would be freedom for them from all the darkness and ugliness and pain that I was. Or so my sick brain thought.

Commerce_family_2

I mentioned that writing this is a tricky venture. It is so partly because I remember feeling that I was an utter failure and not as good as others because I couldn’t even succeed at ending my own existence. I remember getting such courage and motivation from the mere mention of the word or when others were successful in committing suicide. Not courage and motivation to survive and live, but—and here is the tricky part—to go through with it myself. Please, if you are in this frame of mind at this season of your life, please read on. Read on because there is HOPE. If you noticed, I said “season” of your life. Please know that that is exactly what it is—a season. And just like the seasons in nature, this will most definitely pass. It may be a very long time or it may be very brief. But it will pass. I promise.

It crushes my very soul to hear of someone who has taken their own life because I know the absolute depth of despair and utter sadness, hopelessness and helplessness they felt. It throws me back to that most dark moment of my life. This is an ugly, hideous place to be. It brings no pleasure to anyone to live there or do the only thing they think they can do. Life for them is total pain and powerlessness. Every mere breath, even blinking of an eyelid, takes far more effort than can at times be mustered up. And even then, each breath is like a dagger stabbing into your soul, reminding you that you are indeed still alive. Existence. Excruciating existence.

Whenever I hear of someone taking their own life, I dare peer again into that deep dark bottomless abyss. I put my toes in only enough to remember…To never forget from whence I came. It frightens me to realize that we all are such fragile beings. BUT.THERE.IS.HOPE. And that HOPE has a Name—JESUS.

God knows each one of us so intimately, whether or not we are Christ-followers. God knows even the deepest, darkest secret recesses of our hearts, our souls, our minds. AND HE IS NOT ASHAMED OF US OR SHOCKED BY US. HE LOVES US—PURELY AND COMPLETELY.

He knows exactly what it would take to bring us up out of the seemingly bottomless darkness of our pain and despair. If we will only listen and let Him. Let Him love us back into life. LET.HIM.BE.GOD.

In that dark season of my life, I was already a Christ-follower. My husband and I were in the ministry, on church staff. So I was in double jeopardy. Christians aren’t supposed to feel like that. We are supposed to have the faith to pull ourselves up by our holy bootstraps [or sandal straps]. This double whammy only added to my shame and guilt and desperateness. You see, I couldn’t live up to anything that was expected of me.

But, I did love God, although I did not believe that He loved me. That He even could. In my desperate search for a way, or even a reason to live, I went to the Bible. It’s all I knew to do. There were many passages that described how I felt because there were people in the Bible who felt exactly the way I did. That rather surprised me. For example, “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snare of death confronted me.” WOW! It was describing ME! But the passage went on to say, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy…He rescued me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:4-6,16-17,19). WHAT!? ME? No way.

Another example is Psalm 107:18-19. “They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.” [Did you actually know that there were anorexics in the Bible!?]

But the one thing I kept seeing was that these people, who were in the same desolate state that I was in, cried out to the LORD. Not only that—HE HEARD THEM AND RESCUED THEM! so I cried. and cried. and cried.

Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” I did not feel radiant. In fact, I felt very much covered with shame. But something in me wanted to believe it, to cling to this hope. But the sweetest testimony came to me in Isaiah 42:3: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” I was indeed very bruised. Bruised from the “beatings” of life. And believe me, my wick was barely smoldering. That became my lifeline that I held onto, however weakly. I begged God to be that kind to me.

He indeed became my breath when I did not have the energy or desire to inhale or exhale. He was my very heartbeat. He clung to me as I held on to Him for dear life.

There is no need to go into any gory details about my attempts at taking my own life. There is to be no glory in that. The glory comes in that each time, something—SOMEONE—kept me from succeeding. I don’t know why me. But I do know that HE is my RESCUER, my DELIVERER.

My heart goes out to those who have to watch someone you love walk or crawl or even just lie there in this horribly sad state of existence. I can only imagine your own pain. But please be gentle and kind with their hearts. This is not the time to be critical or judgmental. Your friend or loved one gets no pleasure living there. This is not a road they chose nor one they can simply choose to rise from. This is NOT a choice. If it were, I guarantee you I would gladly have taken that choice to NOT feel suicidal. It sure would have been a lot easier than walking through what I walked through.

For those with friends or family in that abyss, there are possibly no words that you can say to “fix” it or even change their mind, BUT BE THERE with that person, even if it takes staying up all night or being by their side all day. They are worth it. Their life is worth it. Don’t try to understand their thinking. You can’t. They don’t. Just be there. Love them.

I will say that in those many dark months, even years, I never appreciated hearing people say, “God isn’t through with you yet” or “God saved you for a purpose.” While these statements may be true and may even help some people, for me—in such serious and desperate times—these words were insulting, disingenuous, and meaningless clichés. They were just words that did not speak love and concern for the intense pain in which I was living. I had some tell me to just get over it. Boy! I wish that I could have!

I don’t mean to put down or disregard people’s genuine efforts to reach out to me and to help. I’m not quite sure that there would have been any human words to actually help me. Counseling certainly taught me great tools with which to live a healthy life now. {I was in-patient for ten months out of a two-year period and in out-patient therapy for a decade.} So PLEASE seek professional help. I did. And I hope you do. But for me, it was ultimately God. PURELY.GOD.

And to those who would call suicide a “selfish” or “cowardly” act, here is what you do not understand. In my “sick” thinking, though I wanted to end my pain, suicide for me was both a selfless and courageous act. Remember, this is sick thinking. Every breath I took was nothing but pain, but I wanted to keep the ugliness of my pain from hurting my husband and children. So for me, suicide was the bravest and most self-less thing I could have done.

Finally and most importantly, to those who are there now, in that dark, despairing, painful emptiness with no energy or desire to breathe, please reach out. Maybe you can’t reach out to a person, but perhaps you can reach even the tiniest of bit to God. Find a Bible (www.biblegateway.com is an excellent source). Google verses about God being our Deliverer, our Salvation, our Strength, our Rescuer. They are there to be found. HE is there to be found. And He is True to His Word. If you are reading these scratchings, THERE.IS.HOPE. And HOPE is a Person—my Friend, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Rescuer, my Rock, my Strength. MY JESUS.

Now, on this side of that hideous abyss called depression with suicidal tendencies, I never want to take a day for granted. I never want to waste a precious moment of LIFE. I never want to waste a single breath. I never want to waste a moment of not loving those around me. I’m still here. I’m breathing—happily. I’m LIVING and loving it!

I made it. And YOU.CAN.TOO.

-Nancy


Please read on…

From Heidi @ Out of She Mind:

To all of my readers:

I want to extend a special thanks for reading this particular post. Not merely because of the nature of the topic, but because this survivor, this writer, this brave woman is my own mother. Yes, this is an issue that is very real to me. I don’t know why and how my mom survived when others didn’t. I don’t know why I was spared the death of my mother multiple times over my childhood so that my eleven kids and I can now visit her a mile and a half away in her living room instead of at a grave site. I have no answers. I only have gratitude—to my mom for making it, and to my God for redeeming it all.


If you wish to read another well-written and raw post on this topic, please visit my friend Lindsey’s heartfelt blogpost HERE, as her family has very recently walked this dark road.


And MOST IMPORTANTLY: To those who need help, please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. Or just Google “suicide.” It’s the first result you’ll get. Get whatever help you need to get through the moment. Please.


Hello, Ms. Coulter,

I hope this somewhat lengthy letter finds you well and totally Ebola-free. (And if you can believe it, I’ve never opened a letter with those words.) I wavered on whether or not to write you, not because you don’t know me and probably won’t read this anyway, but because all of my friends told me not to. They said it wouldn’t do any good. That it would be a waste of time. That your post about Dr. Kent Brantly and Ebola contained so much vitriol that a response was beneath me. And that to argue with you wouldn’t change your mind anyway.

But I’m not writing you to change your mind. Well, at least not yet. I have no plans to start a debate. I have no desire to argue. You are entitled to your opinion, even if you stand alone with it. You have a right to express your thoughts, even if no one listens. You can write whatever words you choose, even if no one cares to read them. (Though I’m sure more Americans agree with you than what I personally would like to be true.)

No, I’m not here to wrestle with you. I’m here to invite you. Yes, Ann Coulter, you read that right. I, Heidi Weimer, a sold-out follower of Jesus, lover of humanity, and self-admitted political lefty (oh, the holy horror!), am inviting you to join me in a little bit of danger.

Because I don’t think you’re soulless, Ms. Coulter. I don’t think you’re evil. I don’t think you have no heart. I think you just haven’t seen what I’ve seen. And while you profess some knowledge of what it means to be a Christian, I don’t think you understand what I’ve learned in my journey with that very Christ you mention—that following Jesus is absolutely and entirely dangerous. Following Jesus is not at all safe. In fact, following Jesus is often very, very foolish. And yes, to the world and anyone else who can’t relate, quite “idiotic.”

But before I tell the who, what, when, where, and why of that invitation to be dangerous with me, let me just share some of my own thoughts about the whole “Ebola doctor = idiot” claim.

To begin, your first “proof” of Dr. Brantly’s “idiocy” is the enormity of the money ($2 million, right?) now being spent on his care by the very charity that sent him to Africa in the first place. While on paper (screen?) your logic is, well, actually logical, what you’re missing is the heart, the very mission behind that charity. Samaritan’s Purse‘s entire existence is wrapped up in the belief that we, as followers of Jesus, are to bring “spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world…with the purpose of sharing God’s love.” Is it unfortunate what has happened to the doctor? Yes. Is it ideal that it will end up costing a fortune? No. But again, let’s go back to the heart of the mission, that part about bringing “aid to hurting people around the world.”

Did you get that? Around the world. Not just around the block. To share God’s love. Sometimes, sharing that love just plain costs a lot, and not just financially. It’s risky. Is it worth it? Yes. Would Dr. Brantly do it again? I’d bet heck yeah. Would Samaritan’s Purse send him again? I have no doubt. Because the money isn’t what matters; the mission is. And as the 36-year-old mom of seven adopted kids (yes, all from Africa) and four biological kids, I can tell you that sometimes sharing that love costs more than we have to our names. But that’s okay, because God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.” We crazy, dependent Jesus-followers like to say that “where God guides, He provides.” (Pardon the cliché, but this one’s a good one.) Whether that’s for our adoptions, our groceries, our vehicles, or our kids to go to college, God’s in the business of taking care of, well, His business. And I have no doubt that Samaritan’s Purse gets that. They understand that it’s all on Him because it’s all because of Him and all for Him. So two million dollars? Yeah, that’s a lot. But that’s entirely not the point at all.

Next, you object to Dr. Brantly (and I’m assuming you’d lump all missionaries in with him, too, though forgive me for assuming as I don’t want to make a rear-end out of you or me) serving Christ overseas, especially when our own country is its own cesspool of problems. You ask “[c]an’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?” And then you answer your own question—No. Well, first, I’ll affirm you just a fraction in your point. Because it’s true that it’s easy to see the striking needs and starving children halfway around the globe and miss the hurting kids living right next door. It’s sometimes more obvious that an entire culture in Africa oppresses girls than to realize our own society has its own crisis with oversexualizing females and objectifying women. How can we be faithful to serving the least of these on another continent and addressing a third world culture’s needs when our own nation is a mess? Good point. Sort of.

Because I’d like to suggest that the two options aren’t mutually exclusive, that ministering in a foreign land doesn’t negate loving our own. I’d like to ask you to see that those who pack up and pick up and leave comfortable America to head overseas—often into the unknown—probably already understand this. Why? Because occupational missionaries live missionally. Period. No matter where they are. In other words, they live their lives on mission for the Kingdom of God. That’s what led them to the occupational part of missions in the first place. So whether on the domestic front and God calls them to serve the poor in inner-city Detroit, the Sudanese refugees in Nashville, or over-indulgent, godless celebrities in Hollywood (Hey, I’d like to take up that cause!) or halfway around the world, wherever they are called to be a light, they do it willingly and openly and without strings attached or expectations made. They do it because it’s who they are and they know it’s not about them anyway. Their lives are not their own. They belong to Jesus Christ.

MLINMO tattoo

My first tat.

You suggested that Dr. Brantly forget about Africa and serve his “own,” people in his own backyard. You even were so helpful as to mention Zavala County, “one of the poorest counties in the nation.” Perhaps your mention will prick people’s hearts to take notice and serve the needs in that community. But what you don’t seem to believe is that if Dr. Brantly were called by God to that very place, he would surely go. Why do I believe this true of him even without having ever met him or knowing much about him at all? Because when God asked him to serve all the way in Africa, Dr. Brantly said yes. But God didn’t ask the doctor to go to Zavala County; he sent him to Liberia. Perhaps God is asking another good doctor to head down to Texas. Let’s pray to that end and while doing so let’s not fault Dr. Brantly for being faithful to his own call.

Here’s the deal. I just got back from my sixth trip to Africa, my fifth to Ethiopia. And while it’s apparently the fifteenth safest country in the world and the safest on the entire continent, I took my twelve-year-old daughter and left behind ten of my eleven children and my hard-working, adorable, Jesus-loving husband to be on mission in a third world nation where I risked disease, danger, and death. Not to mention, it took us twelve months of really hard work at fundraising to afford the trip. So why would I do such a thing? Because it’s the country that has my heart. It’s where Jesus called me to go. It’s worth it to me. Did I realize I might not come home? Yes. But if I drive the 0.9 miles to my local Kroger, I also might not come home. And that’s just to buy a gallon of milk for my kids’ Toasty-O’s cereal in the morning. (It’s true—we can’t afford actual Cheerios.) But if I take that kind of everyday risk, how much more should I risk to be the hands and feet of Jesus to children and women who need His love and light and hope around the world?

Izzy and girls ET 2014

Does any of that negate the fact that my neighbors next door need that same love and light and hope? Absolutely not! Does any of that necessarily mean that I am ignoring the needs around me in my affluent community of Williamson County, Tennessee? No. Does any of that mean that on a daily basis I am not ministering to and witnessing to and loving on the “godless” around me? No. If it’s my heart to pour out myself to love the least of these in Africa, it’s also my heart to love the “lost” here in America. In fact, if you want to know the truth, what pumps my blood as much as sitting in a hut in rural Ethiopia and praying over a widowed mom of six young children is sitting across the table from a homosexual atheist here in America and engaging in profitable dialogue with them. (True story. I love it. Ask my friends.) It’s all for God’s Kingdom. And it’s all because of His love in me and thus my love for people.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Sieb

So while you might think that I “slink off” to Ethiopia because I’m tired of dealing with the culture war crap here in America, you’re wrong, Ms. Coulter. I fully realize and live by the truth that living in the U.S. isn’t a break from the Great Commission Jesus issued any more than being a public school teacher means that said teacher doesn’t care about their own kids at home. The thing is, your reasoning just doesn’t fly in the face of reality. (Although, if you want me to be honest, it’s so much more pure and simple to live out the gospel in the middle of Africa when you’re 7,000 miles away from tired Hobby Lobby debates and the political circus of American Christianity. But you get my point. I hope. Sigh.) I go not to avoid America. I go because I love the women in Ethiopia. I go because the kids there are worth it. I go because I have been sent. I go because of Jesus.

Heidi and women in ET 2014

And then, by the end of your article, well, you struck a nerve with me. Because if you only knew the heart of so many of us who are passionate about mission work overseas, you’d know that we cannot stand HATE HATE HATE TOTALLY AND 100% ENTIRELY ABHOR the word “hero.” Oh, yes. We certainly do. And while it’s true that Americans are prone to a Messiah complex, to a Savior mentality, many of us would in a heartbeat burn any super-hero cape thrust upon us. A whole slew of us want nothing to do with the hero label. No, if you want to put me on a pedestal, I’ll be happy to throw myself right off of it. In fact, I’ll probably lose my footing and trip down from it anyway. I’m no hero of any sorts, whether ordinary or extraordinary or anything in between. No, I’m just one person living her life to love Jesus, follow Him, and make Him known to as many people as possible wherever I am asked to go for as long as I can before I leave this body and embrace eternity. So, no,—Lord bless—I am SO not a hero for anything I’ve done: adoption, missions, or otherwise. And I firmly believe that if Dr. Brantly wanted to indulge any narcissistic bent in him and don a cape, there are far easier and less dangerous ways to do that than in undesirable conditions in western Africa in the middle of an epidemic.

Finally, Dear Ms. Coulter, I’d like to flip your entire argument on its head. (I know; I’m sorry. But I had to save this until the end.) I have to challenge your suggested premise that Christians are to be a lot less foolish and a great deal more rational. Because if Christians were to live safe lives here in suburbia and settle down in safety, well, you’d be totally right. But the truth is, Ann…The jarring truth is that that is precisely the opposite of the life to which Jesus calls us if we claim to love Him and follow Him. He beckons us to dangerous living. He tells us to count the cost. He calls us to do radical things that we would do for no other reason than our love for Him and thus our love for His people. (Note the key factor being love, because if we fail at that, we totally fail at it all.) {And by the way, since Christian children right this minute are being beheaded over in Iraq, perhaps it’s time we retire the idea that Christianity is supposed to be safe.}

Of course there will always be the naysayers telling us we’re foolish, the confused crowd wondering what we’re up to, the uptighties with one hand on their hip and the other waving a finger to tell us that we’re making a huge mistake, that we’re risking too much, that we are taking this Jesus thing way too seriously or entirely all wrong.

But it doesn’t matter, because it’s not about my safety or about my comfort or about what others think of me. (Psst. They think I’m crazy.) My life is not my own. It’s just not about me. It’s about Jesus. Any danger I can’t foresee and any risks I can are all worth it both now and in the end because Jesus and His Kingdom are worth it.

It’s why my husband and I said TO HECK with mediocrity and comfort and welcomed seven kids into our family, even when others rolled their eyes and warned us not to. It’s why we said YES to an angry, hurting teenage girl and called her our daughter, even when others advised us not to and even when she put our very security and sanity at very real risk. It’s why we brought in a broken, traumatized, little seven-year-old girl, even though she was rejected and abandoned by countless others who didn’t think she was worth it. It’s why we forgo riches and excess and ease, even if others think our finances are a sad state of affairs. (Oh, wait, they are!) It’s why my husband works a full-time job and valet parks cars three nights a week on top of that, even if others say yes to the American Dream. It’s why we say YES to God before we even know the question.

Because living dangerously (in reality and not just metaphorically) is how all followers of Jesus are supposed to be living. And if we’re following the Son of God who made and love all people, it only makes sense that that same God would send us to love all people, whether in suburban America or rural Africa or the streets of the Middle East or, yes, like you mentioned, in the one of poorest counties in the U.S. of A. We live dangerously wherever we are because following Jesus demands it.

And before you object to that claim, let me assure you. No, we’re not foolish for foolish sake. We’re not crazy just to be crazy. We’re not radical just to call ourselves radical. We’re any of those and all of those only if and only when Jesus requires it. (Which, by the way, is often.)

And so all that to explain, Ms. Coulter, that you’re invited. You’re invited to that dangerous living, if you do indeed love and follow Jesus. And you’re also personally invited by me, Yours Truly. You’re invited to come and hop a plane with me. Let’s go be dangerous together for a week or more. Let’s take a walk on the unsafe side. Let’s drop by my favorite places in Ethiopia. Let’s show up in L.A. where no one would expect us. Let’s take a trip, a Where in the World is Ann Coulter?, if you will, and let’s ask the people in the trenches. Let’s talk to the preachers, the teachers, the pastors, the doctors, the nurses, the missionary pilots, and the people on the ground. Let’s not pontificate; let’s participate. And let’s—together—see the needs, both here and afar. Let’s check this out and see what it’s all about, less we risk being the foolish ones for all the wrong reasons.

Because I have a hunch that when you see with your own eyes what I’ve seen with mine and you get a taste of something you’ve never before, you might think differently than to dismiss God’s work as the work of crazed, narcissistic idiots.

So Dear Ann Coulter, you’re officially invited. I’ll even let you have the seat by the aisle.

Sincerely,

Heidi Weimer,

Official and Outspoken Idiot for Jesus

 

P.S. For what it’s worth, I don’t care for “Christian narcissists,” either. I mean, ew. Just ew. I just think you’ve stuck the label on the wrong guy.

And P.P.S. Let’s you and I and everyone else join together in spending more time praying for the end of the Ebola epidemic than we do debating it. Okay? Thanks.