Confessing to Something That Probably Means I’m Human

I’m an introvert. I don’t like attention. But visitors to child development centers get lots of attention, and that means I’m experiencing a lot of discomfort and fear on this blog trip to Kenya.

My dislike for attention is connected to a fear of being “seen.” If I’m seen my “true self,” my inadequate self, might be recognized.

I embrace this lie of inadequacy often because I don’t recognize it as a lie; it feels like the truth, which I realize puts me in the same place as the children you sponsor … vulnerable to the lie of poverty.

No one told me I had “what it takes” when I grew up, or if they did, I didn’t get the message. And now, when people do tell me, “Good job!” I don’t believe it. This lie found fertile soil in my heart and now has deep roots.

The poverty in my life is emotional and spiritual. The poverty in the lives of the kids you sponsor and the kids we’re meeting here in Kenya is that and more.

I want you to sponsor a child, and I’m asking you to sponsor a child even at the risk of prostituting my emotions.

Prostituting my emotions, that’s my inadequacy talking. I feel I have to address any accusations or negative reactions about this in advance, in order to protect myself, and in order to somehow justify writing a post focused on me rather than on you.

My wife tells me you want to hear this stuff and that you want me to personalize this Kenya blog trip experience, but I don’t agree. I don’t think you want to hear about me; I’m not why you read this blog.

However, I am a newlywed, so I am trusting what I’ve often been told, that the wife is always right. So, this is what I’ve got for you.

young boy with mom in doorway

I’m going to leave it to the other Compassion Bloggers to tell you about this boy we met today, to let you know about his situation and what makes him a highly vulnerable child in the midst of more than 300 other vulnerable children ministered to by Kabuku St. John Child Development Center. Hopefully they will do so.

For me, I can tell you with complete honesty that the only true emotion I have felt on this trip was when I met Samuel and learned that he is eight years old. He’s too small to be eight. He looks to be the size of a four-year old.

Samuel was enrolled in our Child Sponsorship Program three years ago. At the time he couldn’t walk, talk or even stand up on his own. His mother had abandoned hope of him living.

What I felt when the group I was with met Samuel (I was discreetly in the back of the group) had nothing to do with the successful intervention that Compassion helped make in his life.

I didn’t feel grateful or encouraged. I didn’t feel moved to pray for Him or to thank the Lord. I didn’t think, “He’s made it” or anything else that I imagine you may have felt or I should have felt.

In the midst of my ever present fear and the very vocal lie that was speaking at the moment, I felt his vulnerability and I respected him. I felt amazement and what I imagine to have been Jesus’ love for him.

Sadly, it only lasted a moment.

young boy wearing yellow shirt and blue sweater

16 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Amanda March 8, 2010

    Chris, I love to read your blogs. You seem to put things into words that I can really relate to. Your honesty is refreshing. You seem to be better at expressing yourself than I am…. something I need to work on. Some of the things you are talking about are the same fears and insecurities that I think about when I am considering a group tour to see my kiddos. I hope to see 2 of them next year! I am pretty new to CI but I already love my kids and feel a connection with them that I can’t really explain.

    1. Chris Giovagnoni March 9, 2010

      Thanks Amanda. I’m definitely learning that my feelings are shared by more people than I would’ve imagined.

  2. Jeremy March 7, 2010

    Wow, Chris, I’m quite moved! An introvert myself, I know that “discreetly on the back” compulsion, but I also have seen how much God loves to draw us out and closer to Him. Sounds like He’s at it with His usual flare over there in Kenya!

    Bri and I are prayin’ for ya’ – keep pushing those envelopes (figuratively AND literally)

  3. Holly79 March 6, 2010

    Oh wow, how I can relate to this! Thank you for being honest. That’s what I love about these blogs, the honesty and openness. It may not always be warm and fuzzy, but it’s REAL. I too can relate to not always feeling the “appropriate emotion” for the situation, and I’m sure I’m not alone. You’re right, this just means we’re all human.

    Keep keeping it real.

    P.S. Just don’t forget that your wife is always right, no matter what.

  4. Robert James March 6, 2010

    Dude, I could see myself in your entire post. Well, except for the part about the wise wife. But, yeah, I’m the guy who would have hung back too, trying to blend in with the scenery. You’re not alone in those doubts you feel. But you have stepped out in faith to go far beyond the normal range must of us venture to open our eyes to a world we need to grasp a hold of if these children are to have a chance.

  5. Lisa Miles March 6, 2010

    Chris, what a brave post. This is a good example of why I love Compassion. I love the humanity of this organization. It’s not some mega-conglomerate that hides its honesty, Christianity, and humanity behind a corporate facade and slick press releases. It’s real people — just like you and me — with strengths and weaknesses. It makes Compassion feel like a true family because we’re willing to be open, honest and vulnerable. I think that quality is what helps us grow and ultimately be better ministers to the kids.

  6. Chris Giovagnoni March 6, 2010

    Hello everyone.

    Thanks for your encouraging comments. I’m trying to allow them to speak against the lie I mentioned – the one about not being able to receive a compliment.

    It does help knowing that I’m not alone in this being human thing, specifically in experiencing the feelings I had in this instance.

    On the Compassion Facebook fan page, Jennie Hitchens said the following and it was a big spiritual a-ha for me.

    If we take time to reflect I’m sure many of us would see that deep down we feel ‘smaller than we should be’, rather like Samuel, but like him we have a God who wants us to grow in every way.

    I like the connection she made.

  7. Gina March 6, 2010

    I too am an introvert… I have wondered how I would handle a trip with Compassion (I’ve thought about joining the Advocate trip to Uganda in Oct.) Thank you for your vulnerability and expression. While some may be more apt to love on the kids and embrace them, your role is incredibly important as well. To observe and understand, to realize that these children are of incredible worth to God- and that you are one of His children – you can’t walk away from that unscathed. Do not question why you are there… do not question God’s use of you there. Just view those children through Christ’s eyes and help us see your perspective… it’s as valuable as any other.

  8. Amy Wallace March 6, 2010

    Thank you for your honesty, Chris. It’s not always easy to share these feelings with people.

  9. Allen March 5, 2010

    Great post, Chris! It’s not always fun or easy to be transparent, but Becky sure hit the nail on the head when saying “that’s what people want to hear”! I’m sure MANY can relate with your feelings and emotions.

  10. Vicki Small March 5, 2010

    Aw, Chris…so human! If the bad voices also tell you that no one else feels the same way, that, too, is a lie. It’s everyone’s dirty little secret: “If other people knew the real me, they would know what a fraud I am, and they wouldn’t like me.”

    And yet, my friend (may I call you that?), we are exhorted to bear one another’s burdens. And it sometimes helps me to remember that Peter, Paul, and the rest of them were as imperfect–though much bolder–than I.

    Btw, I’m an introvert, too. I feel your discomfort!

  11. Teri March 5, 2010

    Chris, you said “…what I imagine to have been Jesus’ love for him. … Sadly, it only lasted a moment.”

    Embrace that beautiful gift He gave you to feel His Love for others. You felt something that soooo many people never feel.

    And Chris, you’re not inadequate… you’re normal.


    PS — keep listening to your wife. She sounds like a wise and wonderful lady.

  12. Cristin Marshall March 5, 2010

    Chris – this was awesome! this kind of raw emotion and vulnerability is comforting to me and how I internally feel at times. I really am glad you shared this! Many Blessings for your time there!

    Cristi M.

  13. K-eM March 5, 2010

    We all have baggage and God works on that baggage so that we learn to rely on him. As Marci said, it’s painful, really painful. I know from experience! But it draws us closer to him and opens up our hearts to others and what we can offer them. And I know that from experience too.

    God is using Compassion to drive a wedge to separate both you and Samuel from your poverty. So hang in there. We’ll pray for both of you.

  14. Marci in MO March 5, 2010

    No matter how many times I read something! I’m sure you know that I meant “Bloggers” and not “Blggers”. 🙂

  15. Marci in MO March 5, 2010

    “My wife tells me you want to hear this stuff and that you want me to personalize this Kenya blog trip experience, but I don’t agree. I don’t think you want to hear about me; I’m not why you read this blog. ”

    My word for this year is “Perspective”; God’s, not mine. So I think in the heart of what your wife has said, she’s right. It is a matter of seeing that Christ is doing a work in you, we are not changed from our lifetime of human experiences and behaviors over night, but it is a process, one that is sometimes painful, as well as lengthy. I for one, appreciate seeing your heart, just like I do in the posts by the Kenya Blggers. It is my prayer that each of your lives are touched by this experience from the Lord that you may come back a life that has been changed and one given to passion in serving Him and finding sponsors for these precious children. Chris continue to “Shine” for Him. (I belive that this was your word for this year) 🙂
    A heart for Him,
    Marci in MO

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