Sarah stood on the stage and shared bits of her story with us, of how she tragically was diagnosed with cancer in her 20’s and to make matters worse the man who she was supposed to marry left her in the midst of it. Part of her healing process was writing about her journey through the pain. Sarah left the east coast and ended up in Portland. Feeling lost and alone she “randomly” meets a Somali refugee family on the MAX. Through their brief interaction Sarah got enough of their information to later go and find them. She stepped out of her comfort zone and the unknowns to engage in the life of a family that she barely knew. Sarah went on to publish her book called The Invisible Girls that tell the incredible story of personal heartbreak, pain, seeking God in the midst of it all and bringing hope to a family that literally had nothing. It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and I couldn’t put it down.
I’ve thought about Sarah’s story so much since seeing her speak at the Faith and Culture Writers Conference. She talks of SE Portland in her book and my daughter goes to a school that is very diverse and quite possibly has families there that are in the same situation as the refugees she comes along side in the book. My eyes are more open to the lives and untold stories of the children sitting in the classroom with my kids. Would I take that step of faith and engage in the lives of others like Sarah did if I sensed God nudging? I sure hope I would be so brave and self sacrificing.
Today as I read Sarah’s blog she wrote this:
By my count, my book The Invisible Girls has 3 f-words in 272 pages. And because of that, a well-known Christian radio station cancelled a radio interview with me last week. I woke up on the morning of the interview to an e-mail from my publisher that the station cancelled because the executive producer read the book and said, “[the profanity] goes against our guidelines for both the broadcast and for listener giveaways.”
And so, because of those three words, thousands of listeners didn’t get to hear how God providentially took me when I was a cancer patient and intersected my life with a family of Somali refugees, and used us in each other’s lives to bring healing and redemption. And the radio station listeners didn’t hear an invitation to buy a copy of the book to support a college fund for those Somali girls.
Seriously? Isn’t that kind of missing the forest for the trees?
This broke my heart and made me really angry. I love that we have radio stations that aren’t full of profanity and song lyrics that I think are teaching my kids things that are harmful but Matt and I have often had the conversation that we hate the slogan “safe for the whole family” on the Christian radio station. So often our Christian culture is so over committed to their safety and comfort that I want nothing to do with it. I know that I like my comfort as well but let’s be honest, the Bible and the stories in it are anything but “safe for the whole family”. I cringe to think that soon enough I’ll have to explain some of those terrible things that it talks about in the Bible (murder, adultery, and rape to name a few) to my little ones. Sometimes our God isn’t always safe but He is always good. The bigger picture tells a grand story about a God who despite our crappy messes, intervenes, loves us anyway, sacrifices for us and gives us hope.
So please friends, go read the rest of Sarah’s blog post, go by her book and help send those sweet Somali girls to college and tell all your friends to do the same. Let’s not get lost in the ridiculous trap of having to make sure that everything we say and do is so “clean” like the radio station did that we miss out on something bigger that God is trying to do.