Holistic work is the hardest work.
I didn’t think I would be writing my blog post in this way today, but after a scuffle with a belligerent employment partner at the IRC this morning, I’m starting to get a sense that the work of reconciliation is not fun and games.
Not like it ever was.
But today gave it a healthy dose of sting.
I don’t know what kind of day she had, but our government contracting shenanigans and his limited English weren’t helping it.
It didn’t matter how legal he was or how well-resourced we were or how many contacts we had or how many slips of paper we provided—she wouldn’t pay him.
Sometimes I think reconciliatory work is like that.
We work and try and partner with every community member in our neighborhood and scour our hearts and build connections and scrape the pockets of donors for loose pennies and pray and plan and walk and wait—and we’re not paid.
When we try to provide our annual report to the world on the tangible fruits of our labor, we must resort to filing for bankruptcy.
We haven’t increased the community GDP.
We haven’t fixed the schools.
We haven’t increased membership in the churches.
We haven’t paved the roads or mended the sidewalks.
We haven’t transformed our food Sahara into a relative Sahel.
We haven’t reformed the police system.
But we’ve loved and loved and loved until our hearts gave out.
To a world focused on steady paychecks, corporate growth charts, and the Almighty Dollar, we look like a well-intentioned but pitiful waste of space and energy.
But to a God focused on the matters of the heart, the payout looks much different.
Because we did hold that girl’s hand as she walked down the street.
We did show that boy a glimpse the father he never had.
We did help that mother shop in dignity for her children.
We did stand by that Black brother as he protested for his life and the lives of his people.
We did pray fervently for the transformation of our community.
We did treat that sister to coffee.
We did find that refugee a job.
We did hold that baby and put her to sleep.
We did invest our time learning from that pastor.
We did file all that nasty paperwork.
And we did, to the best of our ability and God’s strength, devote our lives to loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Every now and then you’ll find a flashy success story to follow a life sold out for God and His people.
But more often than not you’ll find the more humble stories of those who were merely faithful.
And if you remove their presence, you’ll notice a community reeking with their absence.
For God is not unrighteous to forget their work and labor of love.
And in the end, the labor of love is the only labor worth doing.