The Boy With No Shoes.
It happened by coincidence some may assume. I mean, I wasn't even sure what following this particular short-term missions team to the neighbors home would consist of, but I went anyway.
He was the first thing I saw. While others focused their attention on a slum-like home that was covered by plastic bags to protect from the rainy season that was to come. I glanced at the home, but my eyes were drawn back to him. He stood leaning against a fence while staring at the ground in a sulking manner.
It was with this second glance that I felt the desire to talk to him. I needed to talk to him. Kelsa (A writing intern at Alongsiders) and I walked up to him and began speaking the basic Khmer we knew, hoping to see a slight resemblance of joy in his facial expression. After asking multiple questions, we learned that he was 10 years old, but his physical features reflected that of a boy much younger.
It was in this conversation that we both began to see much more than just a face that seemed to forget how to smile. We noticed a small sore on his stomach that a fly had seemed to reside itself in. We noticed his hair was very thin. We noticed the too big for his size shorts were the only article of clothing he wore. We noticed dirt that covered him from head to toe. However most of all, we noticed his dirty and bare feet. It was what we would see on the bottom of these feet that would change the conversation. What started out as simple and innocent had become difficult to bare. On the bottom of one of his feet there was a very infected sore that filled half of his foot. Not only was this hard to see, but even harder was the fact that not only one but multiple insects had began to make this particular sore their home.
Kelsa and I stood in shock and confusion of what to do next. It is true that it is impossible to unsee what you have seen. Without the proper necessities to fix this wound, we knew that we could not leave this little boy after acknowledging the need before us.
It is moments like this in life that we are given two options. The easiest and most convenient choice is to walk away. To turn our back and fill our mind with anything that brings comfort as a blanket to cover up everything we have just seen. Or, without knowing the right answer or decision, we can choose to move regardless. It was this particular decision that Kelsa and I chose that changed everything. We picked up this little boy and began walking back to the organization to fix his wound.
I believe that God uses simplicity to bring us reassurance.
It was as I carried this little boy down an alleyway that God spoke very clear to me what I needed to hear most: This is what I have planned for you. This is why I have chosen you.
It was as if a wave had crashed over me in that very moment. How many days had I spent worrying about meaningless things? How many hours had I spent clinging to empty promises? Most of all, how many moments and opportunities had I missed because I chose the easier option?
It happened by coincidence some may say, but on this particular day I was reminded of what was important.
The purest form of joy is not found in the boy who may or may not like me. But rather in the face of this little boy as he smiles for the first time while you're carrying him to fix his infected foot.
The deep desire to make a difference is not found in how many likes my pictures may get. Rather in is found in the moments I have chosen to only capture with my heart and not a camera.
Most of all, eternal life is not found in my earthly worries, wants, or meaningless thoughts. But rather eternal life is found in carrying my cross, just as I carried the boy without shoes. As you carry your cross it is evident that you won't always have all the right answers or decisions, but I pray that you choose to move anyway.