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Rejecting Apathy from Within

Is it possible to spend your efforts rejecting apathy on a global level all the while tolerating apathy on a personal level? Yes, it’s possible, but sooner or later you’ll run out of strength and be forced to examine your own heart. I know because in the few months since I wrote our last article, we had to confront the apathy in our own lives.

While we were living in Uganda we had this incredible artist, Stephen (aka “the woodpecker”), carve a meaningful Tolstoy quote into a piece of Mvule hardwood (with only a screwdriver and a chisel). The quote has spent the last two years hanging in plain sight on the wall of our living room, and yet somehow we gradually forgot to read it and internalize the meaning: “Everyone wants to change the world and no one wants to change themselves.”

The reality is, we got so caught up in changing the world through Light Gives Heat (LGH) that we forgot to continually work on changing ourselves. Like a slow poison, the personal apathy started to jade our perspectives. We started to see our home life as a burden and found more ways to pour ourselves into LGH—having people watch our children so we could work more, working from home at night and spending weekends working booths at festivals throughout the summer. Our typical response to “how are you doing?” was “we’re crazy busy.”

What’s truly crazy is we were praised for our behavior and actions! In a world run by drive and busyness, we were doing good. And we were doing good—we were giving our lives to good things like working in Africa, leading a small group, and reading books and listening to podcasts to further our “progressive spirituality.” But we were veiled and couldn’t see that those good things were at the expense of the best things: our marriage, our children and our time with the Lord.

So we continued to push ourselves and felt the daily (and heavy) weight of holding everything together. Somehow we lost remembrance of the fact that the Lord’s yoke is easy and light. But when your eyes are looking down and you are living in the shadows of life, the light and truth are not easily seen. Every now and then we would get glimpses of truth and right perspective—usually after an intense breakdown of “we can’t do this anymore.”

Around the time I wrote the last article, we were starting to see the need for transparency, but we thought we would get away with making moderate changes within LGH and our family. We were wrong. At our annual LGH Board retreat the first weekend of October, we finally broke down. In front of dear friends who love us and love LGH, we confronted the darkness and lies that had been veiling and burdening us—stealing our time, our joy, our marriage, our children and our place as children of the Lord.

As instructed by our Board, we took the month of October off from LGH—our first break in two and a half years. All emails were forwarded to our Board Chair and daily operations were maintained as best as possible without us. It was freeing to come to the realization that things could run without us, and at the end of the day it was about us—reclaiming our hearts, finding our worth in Lord, and mending our marriage and family. Dave and I spent October falling in love again—taking time to play together and simply be together.

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We realized we were in a battle that required fighting and so we made drastic changes: setting the alarm at 5:30 a.m. to rise together to pray, connect and read Truth (something we had never done together in eight years of marriage). A drive to California with our two amazing children gave us our first family vacation by ourselves. Disneyland, the zoo and the ocean offered priceless memories and the opportunity to delight in our children.

We came back in November listening to the gentle whisper that was nudging us to relocate an hour away to Grand Junction, Colo. A bigger city with a college and five high schools could provide much-needed volunteer help and with both sets of our parents nearby, Dave and I would get weekly date-nights and help finding a balance between LGH and our family life. As hard as it was leaving our tight-knit community, the move proved to be exactly what we needed. As a couple, Dave and I saw God’s faithfulness (both with our family and LGH) as we relinquished control and put first things first.

A faithful donor of LGH owned a large warehouse that has become our new office, providing four times the space we previously had and giving us the space to open a sweet urban storefront as well. We’ve had more volunteer help here in the past two months than the previous two and a half years combined, and we’ve noticed a renewed sense of joy, passion and creativity for our work! In so many ways, we really see this as just the beginning for Light Gives Heat. With ideas brewing around a documentary, developing the Ugandan infrastructure, expanding EPOH and launching an apparel line, we are so excited for 2010!

Even though we’re living with family as we wait for our home to sell, this move has offered a fresh start for our marriage and family on a personal level. We continue to wake at 5:30 each morning to ground ourselves in Truth and connect. Gratefulness has been a key factor in much of what we have learned—so much changes when we choose to see everything around us as gifts (as opposed to burdens). And above all, we have learned that our worth comes from our Father, not for what we do, not from LGH. As hard as it has been at times, it’s so freeing to know we are loved enough not to be spared from having to confront ourselves and the personal apathy that can build up if we don’t have right perspective and priorities—as we fight for social justice, we must also fight for our own hearts.

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