Danielle Mayfield’s book Assimilate or Go Home is being released TODAY. If you’ve read her blog, which many of you have, you know that Danielle is a prophetic, broken spirit who has eyes for the poor and the oppressed and her own weaknesses and a longing to see justice rule and mercy reign.
That’s what you’ll find in this book. Honesty, vulnerability, mistakes, and hope as she wrestles with how to love people well. Does that require doing something massive and radical or can it be simply baking cakes?
One of the things Danielle writes about (through the example of her own life) is the great variety of ways that we can love people (like cakes or Halloween parties or holding babies…). For me, one of the most significant ways I have felt loved, or in her words, ministered to, in the past year happened in December 2015.
The Ministry of Recognized Brokenness
One of my dearest friends suffered the most terrible loss imaginable and I needed to go to her. She lived a few countries away and I needed to get there as soon as possible. This was going to require plane tickets, cash, arrangements, obtaining local identity cards that weren’t quite ready yet, and people to take care of the rest of my family while my daughter and I traveled.
I had only a few hours to arrange these things.
Here is what happened:
My mom and dad, who happened to be visiting, said, as soon as they heard what happened, “You need to go. Don’t worry about us being here. Go.”
People who love me gave money for two tickets without me ever asking.
At the airline ticket office, I showed up without passports and without cash, forgetting that almost no place here accepts credit cards and that I needed identity documents to travel internationally. The employee looked at me, as I started to cry, and said, “Don’t worry. Here are your tickets. Just bring the passports to the airport. I will figure out how to work the credit card machine.”
The identity card staff person was three hours late to work, meaning I needed to get these cards with just minutes to spare before packing and rushing to the airport. People, who don’t form lines here, could tell by my face (I guess) that I needed to go first when she finally showed up. She handed me the cards.
On the airplane, I journaled and cried and realized that in the haste of packing, I had forgotten Kleenex. The flight attendants graciously brought extra napkins.
Upon arrival, I filled out the immigration forms wrong. The officials asked why my daughter and I were here so suddenly, for so short a time. I told them and with gentle, kind words, they waved us through.
My daughter didn’t always know what to do with me for the time we spent abroad together, while I kept crying or rambling on and on about silly, or deep, things. But she let me hold her hand. She let me put my head on her shoulder. She held me up, physically, at the service. She listened and laughed or passed me more napkins.
Upon returning home, people asked how we were doing. They didn’t ignore pain and they didn’t rubberneck to look into it. They were compassionate and thoughtful and sincere.
Sometimes the best way to love people, to minister to people, is to let the brokenness show up. Sometimes it is hard to be that honest or vulnerable, sometimes, like me on the airplane or for weeks following, the effort to hide it is too much and it overflows unbidden. That allows people to come in, to share the pain, to see it and honor it and hold us up under it and that, I’m learning more and more, is a ministry. To let people into our brokenness.
And sometimes the best way to love people, to minister to them, is to be on the other side. To see that brokenness and acknowledge it, to hold it, to understand that this other person is trying their best to remember the cash or the passport or their birth date on paper forms. It is to be kind, to be present, to give, to inquire, to sit in silence.
Danielle doesn’t have everything figured out about how to minister to people, how to love people well, but she is willing to ask hard questions and to push herself to do better.
This is a book about how massively huge little things are. About how cake can heal, how airline napkins soothe, about finding hope in dark places and about learning that we were never meant to save the world. We are simply meant to love the people in it.
Click here to buy Danielle’s book: Assimilate or Go Home