A few times this week, I have had friends look to me and say, “It’s so great that you have a cause you are passionate about. I just wish I knew what mine was.”
Every time my reaction has been the same, “I do?” Time and again, I have found myself in that place of searching, hoping, desiring to arrive at my true “calling” in life, desiring to figure out which cause I will stand behind, for good.
In today’s society of social activism, it can feel like we’re supposed to choose one cause to put all our weight behind. But sometimes it feels like there are just too many injustices to choose from. If you’re anything like me, you want to be about them all. You might find yourself waiting for some sort of revelation of something specific to go after, waiting to identify with the fight for something, and contemplating the choices: Will it be human trafficking, clean water, orphans, widows, adoption, the poor? If the poor, then the cause of the homeless in my city or those living in poverty overseas in the slums of Africa? Which country should you invest in?
The possibilities are truly endless, which is a hard truth to understand and fully grasp. A lot of us feel a need to act, but it’s easy to get so caught up in the sheer volume of needs in this world that it makes us feel numb and even apathetic. Sometimes it’s easier to just do nothing than have to choose what to do or how to go about it.
Unfortunately, as a result of living in a lost and broken world, injustice is all around, and if we have been given a heart of compassion, it should be very natural for our heart to be drawn to various issues. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact, it’s beautiful.
It has been through the search for a clear leading to be about one specific cause that I have realized that I just may never land on one cause—my heart may forever be caught up in the midst of them all. And I have realized all these causes represent one common cause.
So many of the injustices in the world are intertwined. Beneath someone’s outer layer often lies an array of “causes” to defend and other needs to meet. Take the woman living in the homeless shelter you interact with: By taking time to truly know her, you could be defending the cause of not only the homeless, but the trafficked, the widowed, the divorced, the abused, the oppressed, the foreigner, the unloved. The same goes for your neighbor, the person sitting next to you at church, the cashier at Target or even your roommate or spouse.
When we truly see people for what is beneath the surface, when we step into their lives and share in their struggles, we are defending countless causes. But our ultimate cause weaves through every situation. The cause to share the message of Jesus is always central, the cause for healing, reconciliation and redemption is at the bottom of this fountain of hope, waiting to overflow and enter everyone’s story.
For me, this was a shift in perspective, something I had to learn to accept as more than enough. For many of us, this shift has the power to change the way we live our lives. Great things happen when groups of people come together with the purpose of defending a specific injustice in the world. There is so much power in awareness, knowledge and taking action. Through these things, we can and will see transformation in the lives of people all over the world. We just have to be careful not to let “a cause” consume our identity and take the place of the cause.
This means it’s OK not to know what cause you should devote your life to. You’re in the perfect position to go after whatever cause presents itself to you next. Just help meet the needs in front of you today—big or small.You shouldn’t wait to act.
Follow the stirring in your heart, day by day, and those causes will be revealed to you. That stirring for something specific might change moment by moment, but that’s OK, because the root cause is never changing. It will always be the purpose and power by which we are given the ability to care at all.
So be about a cause if you so choose. Fundraise, wear the red X, sponsor a child, go build a well in Africa, visit the orphaned, be amongst the poorest of the poor. Tweet, write, raise your voice, but at the same time, face the needs you encounter in the mundane of daily life with that same zeal and passion. Give your presence to the next person you interact with. See the poor in Spirit right in front of you through that same lens. See their need for your love and care as being just as great as those you are championing for all around the world.
Rest in the pull of your heart to be about more than one issue. Don’t wait to act until you have figured out the best cause to support. You have been given a cause—walk in it with confidence. Trust that by caring for those who have been divinely appointed to cross your path, you may be defending more causes than you ever could have hoped!
Rather than seeing your neighbors as some kind of mission, take another look and see them as people who have been divinely placed in the homes on your street, for you to know and love and care for. Our cause while on this earth is to live with intention and purpose, and we can only hope that we might be a part of furthering the greatest cause: the message of Jesus. This cause will transcend into every story we intersect with, in your backyard or across the globe, comfortable or uncomfortable, familiar or unfamiliar, this care is our call and this is more than enough.