“Hey, how was your vacation?”
I heard the question a dozen times a day the first week I returned from Thailand and Cambodia. Even though most people knew I wasn’t exactly going on vacation, that still seemed to be the word a lot of people used once I returned.
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
In truth, the trip was anything but a vacation. It was one of the most intense, exhausting, emotionally draining and spiritually provoking two week periods of my life.
But that wasn’t the answer most people were looking for—so I had a dilemma. How could I satisfy casual curiosity (or just plain social nicety) and still answer honestly?
Enter the elevator speech.
Anyone who has had any exposure to marketing is familiar with the concept of an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a quick, pre-rehearsed snippet designed to communicate information about your … (product, organization, service…or, er, vacation) in the approximately 30 seconds or so you would have in a random connection with someone on an elevator. The idea is to give an accurate and intriguing synopsis that will satisfy the merely polite while simultaneously identifying and drawing in the truly interested.
So here is my elevator speech:
This trip was an intense and impactful time of entering some of the darkest areas on the planet–areas where human trafficking and sex tourism are rampant–and discovering the priceless treasures hidden in the dark. My eyes were opened to see things I could never have fathomed and I was forever changed by the things I saw. I believe God ordained this trip for a specific purpose and my challenge now is to determine how to best use my individual gifts and resources in a long-term way that will help bring these hidden treasures into the light.
So that’s my elevator speech. My three sentence recap on what the trip meant to me personally. Probably still more info than a completely casual inquirer really wants to hear, but at least it’s honest. If you want the Reader’s Digest condensed version–there it is.
Does this really tell the story? No. Not even close. I’m not sure I can tell the whole story at this point. Even though I’m home, much of the story that prompted this trip is still being written. There’s also a long back story that gives context. There are parts of the story that still need to be discovered. Other portions require more thought, more prayer before releasing details.
But this I do know–the One who is the Author and Finisher of my individual story, is also the Author and Finisher of this story–the story of these cities and these people. The story of these treasures hidden in darkeness. And he sees the whole picture. He sees far beyond elevator speeches and sanitized, condensed recaps. He sees the end from the beginning. He is the Light in the darkness, the Hope to the hopeless, the Voice for the voiceless, and the only One who can (and will) ultimately write a happy ending to the story.
Although there is much to unfold, I have glimpsed the final outcome. I know the end of the story and I know it’s good. But there is a lot right now that isn’t good. There is a lot of suffering. A lot of heartache–heartache so deep and desperate that a mere word can’t begin to convey the reality of the nightmare. There is real evil and real depravity that has crept into many, many dark crevices of the story. There is an incredible amount of devastating pain and tragic loss.
But those details of my “vacation” are for another time. Maybe even for another place–I’m not sure yet. If you are amongst those who are intrigued and do want to hear more–I will definitely share more info in some format at some point in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. But for right now, the elevator speech will have to suffice. Because honestly …
It’s about all my heart can bear at the moment.