“Hi, my name is Rachel and I’m so glad you reached out tonight. Would you mind sharing your name?”
I spend at least four hours of my week typing those exact words over and over, responding to text after text from total strangers in crisis. Crises come in many shapes and sizes, but most everyone doesn’t reach out for help from strangers until they have nowhere else to turn.
I volunteer with Crisis Text Line, an organization that gives people in crisis a place to text in to and be heard by a trained crisis counselor who works with them to problem solve and reach a safer, healthier, more peaceful state. (Side note: if you’re interested in volunteering, we’re always in need of more crisis counselors! You can check out this link or ask me for more information.) We take texts from any kind of crisis: breakups, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, depression, mourning, anxiety, eating disorders, abusive relationships, mental illness, homelessness, addiction, and many more.
I have had the privilege of talking to people in situations I could not have imagined, with pain I couldn’t have dreamed up.
And after hundreds of conversations, I think I can tell you what everyone is asking, at the root.
Everyone wants to know, wants to hear confirmation from someone else: “Is it worth it?”
Is it worth it?
Is this life and this pain inflicted on me, the pain I have inflicted on others, the pain that I can only blame God for, is it worth it?
I don’t get to tell the people I talk to about Jesus. That wouldn’t be appropriate, and that’s not what we’re there for.
But I do get to answer their questions with a resounding, “Yes! Yes it’s worth it. Here, I’ll show you,” and that might be the same thing.
Because while this world is broken in ways beyond my understanding, knowing more about it doesn’t make it more broken. It just makes redemption all that much more miraculous.
I know that Christ will return and make all things new, but I also know that we’re part of the remaking. It’s not a demolition project we’re waiting for. This life matters, matters with an eternal weight, matters in ways that won’t be destroyed.
We are not called to belittle the pain of those who are suffering because it is temporary and will someday be redeemed.
It’s not what Jesus did. Never once did he say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” or “God is teaching you something important in this.”
He worked redemption in the here and now and not in the someday. He healed this sick and held the little children. He overturned the tables of those preying on the weak.
To those who asked, “Is this worth it?” he answered.
He didn’t ignore or avoid those who made him uncomfortable, those who were dirty and broken in ways that make us feel awkward.
Instead, he said, “It is worth it. It gets better. Here, I’ll show you.”
I can’t heal like He could. I don’t know how it’s going to get better for most of the sufferers I talk to, but when they say that they feel so alone, that it feels so impossible, I get to tell them, “I am here to listen and help however I can for as long as you need. What would be helpful to you tonight?”
Yesterday, I talked about the wildfire in Canada with my third grade ESL class, 75% of whom are refugees. We read a passage about it and then discussed what we would take with us if we had to flee from a fire that would destroy our homes. My non-refugees answered first, saying they’d grab their TVs, iPads, stuffed animals, and clothes.
And then one little refugee girl piped up, “I’d just bring my family. That’s all we could bring when we left Thailand, and it was all that we needed anyway. People are more important than things.”
She knew the suffering of those thousands of miles away, in a country she’d never visited, in a situation she’d never faced, because she knew suffering. And she knew what they’d need more than anything else was each other.
So we sit together in the shit of suffering and we say, “This life is worth it. Here, I’ll show you.”
And we stay until it’s true.
Because He is making all things new right now and forever.
Here, I’ll show you.
If you find yourself or someone you love in crisis and in need of reminding that this life is worth it, text 741-741 to talk to a crisis counselor.