I had this idea when I was thinking through this series. I would interview people that inspired me in the way that they lived out God’s love into the world.
But I really thought it would be a practical thing. Like I would interview all of these people, connect the dots, and BOOM! I could tell you how to live “Kingdom-like” in the world today.
It has been much more beautiful than that. Instead, I see people living uniquely into their gifts, callings, and limitations. I have seen how God moves in our lives in innumerable ways that cannot be prescribed for someone else.
Let me introduce Liz Griffin!
I fell in love with that term, and she has inspired me again and again that motherhood is a beautiful calling, yes. But we can still seek out ways to live justice and mercy into the outside world. She did a great podcast with Kat Lee here that is really worth listening too. Her wisdom and perspective are a gift me.
I hope they are to you as well.
When we began our interview, I asked Liz, if she had always worked against human trafficking or towards other justice issues
“I think that from the time my first daughter was born I never changed trajectories of where I wanted my life to go. When she was little, writing was not on the table yet. Which is a good thing about motherhood: it pulls you back and you discover things you never had time to notice about yourself before.
I have always been passionate about macro level politics and social justice issues. Originally the plan was my husband going into sales, and I was going to law school or another masters program that would lead to military intelligence or a similar field. When my husband and I moved to Seattle to plant a church instead, I still fully intended that I would enter a masters program there. Then I found out I was pregnant.
After my daughter was born, I realized life with a newborn, a church plant, and graduate school was not within my capacity. So I stayed at home with my daughter. But I kept reading articles and my old textbooks. Even though I wasn’t tangibly spending time outside my home doing justice work, I kept it in front of me. I listened to Podcasts on current events. I kept connected to those things. For a long time that was all that it was. I was doing my own continuing education while my kids were itty bitty.
I didn’t start volunteering outside the home until 3 years ago when UnBound started. But I talked about it with friends. I tried to make time to keep these passions alive in me, even though my day to day life didn’t directly interact with the issues. ”
Liz still stays at home with her kids but she also works with a ministry called UnBound, which works to “see the church mobilized to end human trafficking.” She is the Director of Strategic Growth, working with the National Leadership team and the international leadership team to develop strategies on where they are going as an organization.
Looking back over her time at home with her tinies, at home she said, “The hardest thing for me at the time was that most of the time my close friends, (even now one of my best friends) who I dreamed with about polictics and social justice were later to get married. So in that season me was watching other people do what I wanted to do. I feared being left behind because I chose parenting. I would pray, “God you put this in me and I hate the thought that I’m just slipping down the ladder.”
I had to work through the natural human wisdom that says you need to do these certain things in this order to get to this certain place. I want to do X so I need to do A to get to point B. The gap years when none of those things were happening, I had to realize, “God, this is really in my heart and it’s what you called me to. You are going to somehow bypass the earthly pattern to getting there.”
“Another thing that was hard for me was how my personality interacted with parenting. A lot of my friends, all they wanted to do was more centered around family life. And while I’m really passionate about family life. In some ways I struggled with guilt that parenting wasn’t the climax of what I wanted my life to be.” Liz spoke of how her skill set didn’t necessarily fit within what she believed home life to be. “I’m awful at house cleaning or keeping my home running buy I can keep my keep a nonprofit running.”
Once she got involved with UnBound, there was a new tension. It was difficult to find the balance between home life and working with such an urgent issue. “Human trafficking feels so urgent and never stops feeling urgent.”
She has learned through experience how to live between the two tensions of normal life and working for justice. Her background, no doubt, was a help.
“My Dad took teams of doctors and dentists into romote villages of South America. We would go with him as a kids, even beginning in Kindergarton. We stayed at an orphanage when we were there. Growing up faith and world issues were not segregated for us. I got to go with my day all through Africa and into the Middle East. We grew up traveling the world.
Eventually my family moved to Russia,after the fall of Communism and started a church plant. Seeing a church built and people who lived under opression experience freedom was a great way to grow up. It solidified this sense that the Gospel works in the real world. That church is led entirely by local people now. I truly believe the local church is the hope of the world.”
Currently, Liz, her husband and two kids are also working towards adopting two siblings from Burundi.
“Adoption was just an obvious thing to me because of how I grew up.
But we have been in this process for a long time now. So far these five years have grown me personally. I have learned a lot. For someone who hasn’t actually adopted a child yet, I have some expertise. We have filled out the same paperwork over and over again.
We keep hitting all of these lags. Three years into the process of adopting from Uganda, the Ugandan government paused adoptions. Our agency recommended Ghana next. But after a time Ghana closed, because they couldn’t guarantee ethical adoption. Last fall our agency said “Ghana has stopped. Uganda is not going to happen.” We put everything back on the table again. Do we keep going through this? And we felt God urging us “you need to keep going.”
What I have learned throughout that whole process, is that really loving people, (even when it comes to loving the orphan) is not about me getting anything out of it. I know when I get these kids, I will get something out of it. I will get to be their mom.
But it ultimately is not about me, it’s about them. It matters as to whats best for them. On a macro level, they are making it a lot more challenging. And I see the benefit in that. The best thing for the kids is that if its possible for them to stay in their country of origin. Or if they have surviving family to stay closer to them. Part of my loving the orphan is celebrating what is best for them.
The biggest lesson about love in general, and God in general. When we love our neighbors sometimes we will get the short end of the stick. Loving in a perferring way. It hurts and it’s not always easy.”