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Stepping Over


Stepping Over

Chris and Jodie MacCartney

Most mornings as we leave the house, we are met by a slum dog on our doorstep. Sometimes she growls at as we step around her, other times it’s a nonchalant turn of the head. We’re never quite sure what side of the bed ‘Lady’ got out of bed each morning.
Stepping over Lady is one thing.  Stepping over "Bom", a 16 year old kid, passed out on our doorstep is something else. Next to Bom is a small glue-lined plastic bag and a few coins fallen from his pocket. Most evenings Bom, and up to 20 other teenagers gather metres from our front door. They settle in with some music, passing the bamboo bong, drinking and sniffing glue. Come early morning as we leave home for school, there’s always a handful that are still kicking on. Other’s are passed out, on the ground, or on door steps.  

Prior to coming to Thailand, if, and when, we were was asked to describe a scenario and the types of people we were wanting to love and care for really well in the bruised neighbourhoods we’d call home, we’d have referenced young people, drugs, poverty and violence. We were committed to bearing witness to the transformative love of Christ in the lives of young people caught in such cycles. 11 years on and we are confronted with the reality of such words on a daily basis.

Bom’s exactly the type of person we envisioned loving-well and pouring our lives into prior to coming to Thailand. And so we did, running kids, youth and football clubs. These programs gave us opportunity to connect, to love and guide these kids to make good choices. And yet, 11 years on, I’m stepping over these same kids, passed out on our doorstep. Despite our best efforts the cycle and destruction of poverty rolls on. The reality of life here for most young people, is incredibly tough. Each time we come and go from our home, we are reminded of our limitations, our powerlessness to make a difference. Feelings of being overwhelmed and lost to the enormity of the task in front of us can take it’s toll. When feelings of inadequacy or failure become our focus, we rivet our attention on ourselves, and the downward spiral begins.

Leading our Wednesday morning bible study with the Second Chance team recently, I was sharing my disappointment of the perceived lack of impact on the young people of our neighbourhood, bemoaning what we haven’t achieved “for God.” As we read together Matthew 22:37-39, I heard the tender and compassionate voice of Jesus, “All I ask is that you Love God with all your heart, soul and mind. This is the best thing! And then love your neighbour as yourself.”  The following days I meditated on this reminder. I find my defensive posture relax. My desire to be successful, or to create the illusion of success retreats. Anger and disappointment are replaced with a peace and contentedness in who I am, not what I do.  

In the face of this grace, dwelling on failures or limitations is revealed for what it is: a self-preoccupation, navel-gazing. Our call to follow Jesus is about having a single-minded orientation towards our Father, and a growing fascination with His Beauty and Love. When I do this, and step over into that grace, my preoccupation with self melts away.  When my heart, soul and mind love God, I start to move towards loving what God loves and I’m freed from introspection and anxiety about my growth and impact. What I find instead is this unconditional invitation to simply present myself before God, and be welcomed as I am, in all my humanness. And then, and only then, I may begin to love others.