Emotional journey

By nature, I am not a very emotional person. I bottle up much of my emotions. Other times, I am on an autopilot throughout the day, never feeling up or down or left or right. I am a left brain, logical being with little consideration for my own feelings or the feelings of others. When others talk about angst in their love life, I am already processing the answer and solutions regardless of whether I am inclined to share my thoughts.

Nevertheless, during my past trip to India, my feelings kept coming up. There were times I was moved with compassion for those I met. I didn’t think about their problems logically. I didn’t think about how people got HIV or the statistics in India or the nature of the disease. I didn’t think about the leprosy bacillus and treatment options and extent of the disease or the social dynamics of a leper colony. These people in front of me were suffering. Period. No further intellectual discussion needed. Rather, the issues in front me were all reduced to one question: How can I comfort them in their suffering? Notice the issue is not alleviate. The issue is comfort.

For some in the HIV hospice that I visited, many were already receiving treatment. There were dedicated doctors on staff who gave up a lot of their time and effort to come treat them. There was already a dedicated nurse living there. What then was their greatest need? Human contact. For some, they were already “Untouchable”. For someone to come and touch them on the shoulder, shake their hand, and even lay a hand on their head to give a blessing, that was enough. Our team sang songs to them and prayed for them and gave words of encouragement. Some were smiling and saw our joy and light even though they had to hear us speak through interpreters. That was part of the emotional journey of this trip. That was what I felt, rather than saw or observed impartially.

On another occasion, our team was starting the third day of our VBS. Each morning, various people would share a word of encouragement or thoughts about the trip so far and how they were doing. I volunteered to speak that day. So far, I was still emotionally distant from the orphans and children at the camp. But then, I started to talk about the significance of adoption and what it meant to be adopted. I shared about a friend who had adopted a little girl. When this girl was adopted, she had come from an orphanage where personal possessions and food were scarce. Instinctively, she had learned to hoard at the young age of three. It took three years of love to break some of the bad habits of hoarding. Somehow, I started to choke up because I saw the same instinctual hoarding actions in the Indian children like the little girl I mentioned earlier. Today, this girl is in her teenage years, in a loving home, and about to start high school.

Ultimately, this trip stretched my heart at times and made it impossible to shrink again. Having once felt the joys and pains in ways never felt before, it’s hard to go back.

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