Friday, November 9, 2007

The Long Defeat

Finally ... a way to describe the "place we are in" when it comes to the whole Haiti vs. America question.

The Long Defeat is a Sara Groves song and when we first heard it a few years ago we were all: "YES YES ... this explains it!!!"

An Internet friend wrote and said she honestly wondered if we would get back to America for our furlough and maybe change our minds about returning to Haiti. I appreciated her honesty and the question. WE also wondered if being here would confuse us and make us long to be back in the States on a permanent basis.

At lunch last Sunday my Uncle asked us if Haiti is home ... if we saw ourselves as lifers. I burst into tears, not because his question was bad, but because it is so hard to explain the place we're in when it comes to Haiti. I think I said something like, "Yes, I see myself in Haiti and yes it very much feels like home." I followed that up with, "and I hate feeling that way."

I do hate feeling that way because it is not sensible to feel that way. So much of what we do in Haiti feels futile. Why love a place where you feel like you're treading water and never getting anywhere? Why choose that place over being where your family and close friends are?

It takes someone much more poetic than I to explain this whole conundrum - loving a place that often drives you nuts. I know we're weird to some of our friends and family. I have experienced that people even take it personally sometimes that we choose to live so far from them. I understand it making no sense to you because it makes very little sense to me. I don't know what God is doing. I don't know how long He'll do what He's doing.  I just know that I am good with the long defeat. 

I have joined the long defeat
That falling set in motion
And all my strength and energy
Are raindrops in the ocean

So conditioned for the win
To share in victor's stories
But in the place of ambition's din
I have heard of other glories

And i pray for an idea
And a way i cannot see
It's too heavy to carry
And impossible to leave

I can't just fight when i think i'll win
That's the end of all belief
And nothing has provoked it more
Than a possible defeat


We walk a while we sit and rest
We lay it on the altar
I won't pretend to know what's next
But what i have i've offered

And i pray for a vision
And a way i cannot see
It's too heavy to carry
And impossible to leave

And i pray for inspiration
And a way i cannot see
It's too heavy to carry
And impossible to leave
It's too heavy to carry
And i will never leave


Ruth said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

Luke Renner said...


Mommy to Four Blessings (so far) said...

Thanks for the post. We are missionaries with Calvary Chapel to Uganda, East Africa and have also adopted two children, so far! Currently we are on furlough in Oregon--a much needed time is rest. Keep your eyes on eternity.

e-Mom said...

I can't imagine you anywhere else but Haiti.

Today, someone posted that video by Sarah Groves, "I Saw What I Saw" and I thought of you all again.

Blessings on your future efforts in Haiti, which are not in vain.

Remember the Starfish story.

Hugs, e-Mom :~D

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing this. Cool song. It seems we both have some heavy thoughts in our hearts tonight. Thanks for your honesty and inspiration.

Cloudscome said...

"I just know that I am good with the long defeat."

Wow. What a testimony. I can't imagine being in a better place.

Heather said...

Tara & Troy,
I love the Sara Groves song too. I love this post. So rarely do these sort of thoughts/conversations/cracks-in-the-door get opened up. And so few people really do engage in this struggle--- fighting the long defeat. But some people *are* doing it (you included), and doing it in various corners and from various angles. I feel like I can completely relate to what you express in your post, even though my "corner"/"angle" is so vastly different from yours. In my university teaching and in my research I have long felt that I'm in the trenches of the Long Defeat. It is demoralizing and depressing *AND* it is uplifting and exhilerating. Mostly, though, it is an uphill battle -- swimming upstream -- a long defeat. Our work in the world is not even comparable. I sit in the Ivory Tower while you live in Haiti (what could be more opposite?!), yet in so many ways we're doing much of the same things at the most basic, core, soul-full level. I greatly admire you for what you're doing *and* for what you're sharing about your journey on the road of The Long Defeat. Keep on keepin' on.
Lots of love and respect,

regalo1225 said...

Hi, my name is Brennan. I'm a student at Notre Dame, and in me is a pulsing desire to go to Haiti. I work with a program here that's trying to eliminate lymphatic filariasis from the I probably will get a chance in January. But anyway, though I have much less experience now, I hope to someday feel what you show in this post. I want the long defeat. But for now, I admire those like you who live it.
Lapè avèk ou,

dan j said...

"things must happen not according to your knowledge, but rather above your own knowledge: immerse yourself in the abandonment of understanding and I will give you my understanding.....not knowing where you are going is the right way to know where you are going....
Thus did Abraham depart from his home w/o knowing whither. He surrendered himself to My knowledge and let go of his own knowledge, and travelled the right path to the end. Behold this is the way of the Cross; you cannot find it, I must rather lead you like a blind person." Martin Luther's commentary on penitential psalms. Our biggest battle is to trust Him. Whether it makes sense to the worldly in us or not. Or even to the spiritual, as our spiritual is nothing as to His. We all are called to our cross, there we find peace and communion with God. The question is, will we go there and trust Him? God bless you guys, you are so far out on that branch of unknowing. Where we all need to be.

John and Jodie Ackerman said...

Thanks for this.

You and the song say lots of what we've been trying to verbalize for a number of years.



Ellen said...

Tara, you are most eloquent. Even though I have not made it to Haiti long-term (yet), I always struggle to answer others when they ask about what draws me - I am unsure myself most of the time. I may be making some big decisions about Haiti in the next six months, and this gives me words to ponder which will hopefully lead to some clarity and peace! Thank you,


erik said...

Hi! I'm a new reader. I've heard about you guys a few weeks ago.

I'm intrigued by your story for a couple of reasons. One, I also love Haiti. I had the opportunity to travel to and work in Torbeck, Les Cayes, St louis de salud, Cambry, Cambridge and fell in love with the people and the country. It is a beautiful place and will always be part of my heart. Second, my wife and I are on a similar road as you....except we will be heading a new medical clinic in les Cayes and surrounding area fo orphans with C3missions nad Nuterra. I have tons of questions about life on the field and just stuff in general that the average person doesn't really understand because many of them think we are crazy. Would you mind sharing your email address and perhaps I can pick your brain when you have a few minutes?

Our email is

In Christ,
Erik and Jamie Bayer

jordan said...

if you never can never fail.

if you never can never truly experience life!

thank you for your story and your raw emotion. i can identify and i know for sure that my future can identify.

angie said...


my friend and i are endeavoring in launching an orphan ministry.

this post is how i have felt in a nutshell.

this thing is huge, it's too heavy to carry, it will always be a burden, but i can't put it down. ever.

it's worth the long defeat.

Gwenn Mangine said...


Anonymous said...

You are truly an inspiration. Not weird. An inspiration. <3

Sarah said...

I totally needed this today.