The Battlefield

As many of you wonderful readers already know, I lived and served at a homeless shelter just outside of Chicago this summer. Returning to campus after this experience has been interesting, to say the least. In many ways, it's a little disheartening. I find myself longing for the people I served and the friends I made.

These homeless people I encountered are constantly stereotyped as the dregs of society. Many of them feel undeniably worthless on a daily basis, as if they have nothing to offer the world. I'll never forget how shocked they were to hear that I actually care about their situation and I actually want to not only help them in their struggles, but struggle alongside them.

For some reason or another, I experienced a certain desire to enter their battles with them; I soon grew weary of watching them fight alone. I wanted to help them fight the forces that kept them rooted in their poverty: their addictions, their mental and physical illnesses, their lack of familial support, etc.

This summer, I interacted with the most incredible soldiers I have ever met in this battlefield we call life. One soldier had been fighting and is continuing to fight a 30-year drug addiction. Another soldier was abused in every way her entire life, and this summer she began to recover through therapy sessions offered across the street from the shelter.

These people are my heroes.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about the faces I encountered this summer, from the face of the four-year-old homeless boy who had been physically abused by his father and now suffers from serious anger management issues but who is undoubtedly one of the best little buddies I've ever had, to the face of the forty-something homeless woman I met who had been a prostitute for most of her life and didn't have much to live for, but who told me she was just happy to be alive because the sun was shining and it was such a beautiful day.

These are my heroes, my soldiers, my strength.
Yet here I am at the University of Notre Dame, typing out my thoughts on a fairly new Mac laptop, wearing clothes that cost most of my babysitting salary from the end of this summer, with a nice meal in my stomach, and primarily white, wealthy students before my eyes walking from class to class, at a school that costs more than $50,000 to attend each year.

Don't get me wrong, I love Notre Dame with every fiber of my being (if you know me well, you know I'm a tad's almost unhealthy sometimes). But as I sit here on south quad with all of these thoughts and frustrations in mind, a pang of guilt creeps into my heart. I think about my heroes back at the shelter, and I realize immediately just how comfortable my life is in comparison to theirs. It is almost sickening. I find myself getting so wrapped up in trivial anxieties each day - the good ole' "I'm totally going to fail this accounting test tomorrow and flunk out of my dream school" or "I'm never going to make the dance I auditioned for" - but let's be real here, I have nothing to worry about.

Compared to the lives of my heroes, my life is carefree, easy, comfortable. They worry about where their next meal will come from; I worry about eating too much and not looking good in a dress for a formal dance. They worry about how their daughters and sons are doing, whom they haven't seen in years upon years; I have the ability to call my family with just the touch of a few buttons on my iPhone.

Indeed, I constantly find myself longing for this past summer, a time of such immense discomfort for me on the one hand, but a time of abundant spiritual reward on the other hand. I long for this broken place that I called my summer home. I know I am so quick to think that I can't find that brokenness and discomfort and that need for Jesus on this seemingly perfect campus. Yet like anything in life, what may seem comfortable on the outside may actually be filled with enough discomfort to last a lifetime. With each additional day I spend on this campus, I realize more and more that homeless shelters aren't the only places in need of God's grace. The homeless, abused, broken soldiers I mentioned previously in this post aren't the only ones who need Him.

We all need Him.

Not just homeless people, not just addicts, EVERYONE.

Every person, in every place, at every time needs Him.

You may think you don't need Him, but you do. You may think you are really living, that you know what it means to be truly alive, but without Him, you don't.

So here is my challenge to you this week: swallow your pride. You don't have it all figured it out in life. But hey guess what? You're not supposed to. Why? Because your Father does. Your Father does have it all figured it out, and He is so stinkin' excited to walk with you through the chaos of this life. He is so willing and so ready to fight alongside you in this battlefield of life, just as I so desired to fight with the "soldiers" I met this summer.

You cannot do it without Him.

Abandon your desires; forget your plans. He has you; He's already holding you. Feel the comfort of His arms around you and eventually you'll realize that in the battlefield of life, you're not even the one fighting after all.

Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

Song of the Week:


  1. missing our times from this summer SO much it's unbearable. love you babe.

  2. You're such an amazing woman Haley! Keep on pursuing the life God's called you to lead :) Love you girl!


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