Behind the Scenes: It Broke Me

There are things in life that change us forever.

And this is my story of one of them.

IndonesianManI remember the man.

Not this man…no, this is not my photo.

As my husband put it, There are just things we didn’t feel that we should photograph.

After all, why take a picture of something that made such an indelible, permanent, imprint in our minds and on our hearts?

The man, though…there was just no way we could forget him.

For the first time we saw him, it was shocking.

He didn’t have any legs.

And we’re not talking leg-loss, below-the-knee…no, he didn’t have any part of his legs at all. When a car would drive by with a handout, he would use the strength of his arms to pull himself near the curb where he would hold up his dirty, paper cup and hope for enough coins or even a paper bill to make a difference that day.

We grew accustomed to seeing him and would always have a Rp 1,000 bill ready…about enough to buy him noodles or rice.

Tobin would stretch down from the driver’s window to make sure the money made it into the cup.

It was a tiny way we could help.

But it never got easier to see him. Never.

There was a piece of my heart that always wondered what his story was…too many circumstances prevented me from ever finding that out.

But there was an even bigger piece of my heart that just shattered all over the broken sidewalk where he made his home during the days. That would happen when we’d pass him or any of the many people like him.

The man in this photo reminds me so much of the man we saw so often…because I look at his picture and I wonder what his situation is.

I wonder if he can walk or even get around without someone to help him.

I wonder if he even has someone to help him.

I wonder his story and if there’s a family or a friend…someone, anyone who might love him.

There are stories like this all over the world, not just in Indonesia…but everywhere. Even, literally, around our corners.

It’s true…broken is everywhere, and it comes in many forms. This man’s brokenness was more obvious that some, but the truth is that, in some way, we’re all broken.

Sometimes pictures are hard to look at, and the stories behind them even more difficult to hear.

But I know how this man…and the crippled man on Jalan Pasteur and the too many children with empty eyes and the hundreds, even thousands, of others….changed my heart.

Yes, they broke it, too…but they changed it at the same time.

Or, maybe, my Father used them to change it.

I still struggle with how it’s possible to love everyone.

It’s not.

But I can love the people who are around me, those God brings into my life…and that looks different with every person.

There’s no “how-to” with Love…it’s just simply a choice. And it’s one I want to make every day.

That’s the story behind why I posted this photo…

Thank you for taking the time to read it.

(Special thanks and photo credit to Eki Akhwan of Bandung Daily Photo. Used by permission.)


It’s Tuesday, and one of my favorite link up days! My friend, Crystal, invites us all to her space to share the real of life behind the photos that make up our days.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

I hope you’ll hop over and read some incredible stories of the things that take place behind the camera lens.



  1. Mel… thanks for the water works this morning! I love to see your heart poured out into words. Your compassion for the people God brings into your life is so evident, and so wonderful. “But I can love the people who are around me, those God brings into my life…and that looks different with every person.” <– I need to remember this always. Thanks, friend for blessing me and so many others with your writing! Love you!!

    • Thank you for your sweet words, friend. You are an amazing encourager in my life, and I’m so blessed by you! Love and hugs! :)

  2. Oh my…beautifully written Mel! It is just simply a choice…

  3. I wish I had half the compassion you have, to have a true love for those around me that are placed in mypath. I have never had the desire to service in tha way until recently. I have always wanted to just stay comfortable, help send others out to do the work but not get my own hands ‘dirty’. This year as we first started looking at God-Sized dreams I began to pray for God to open my eyes to where I really needed to service. Slowly He is doing that. Thank you for your story, your compassion and your example.

    • Friend, you are such a blessing to me…thank you for your kind words. I know that as you continue to trust God, He will continue to show you how you can love and encourage others…you are a wonderful encourager to me, and I’m so thankful for you! Blessings. :)

  4. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Much kleenex needed. Just thank you so much for sharing your heart and laying it bare and bleeding for us. Such an awesome reminder to love where we’re at. That compassion, mercy and the go ye into all the world is sometimes only as far as our hands reach out to offer a hug. Blessings to you today friend.

    • “That compassion, mercy and go ye into all the world is sometimes only as far as our hands reach out to offer a hug.” Yes, this. Something I want to live by. Thank you, friend, for taking the time to read my words…many blessings and hugs to you! :)

  5. This is a beautiful and thought provoking post! My husband sometimes has to travel to India for work. He once came home completely broken over seeing a boy with no arms or legs face down on the ground begging for money. His parents would put him there everyday to earn money. It is so sad. If it wasn’t for Jesus there would be no hope anywhere.

    • Oh, that just breaks my heart. :( Those kinds of experiences remain whether we’d like to forget them or not…but I am so thankful for that Hope we have. And praying that sweet boy will find that Hope, too. Blessings, friend…thank you for sharing this.

  6. Of course I have to bring the guilt issue into this! How do those of us with compassionate hearts–and other than finding a way to serve others in need– how do we NOT feel guilty for all the blessings we do have? It is almost like survivor’s guilt: why them and not me?

    • Yep, I’ve felt that many times, and I still do. I don’t think there’s an easy answer for it here on earth, but someday we’ll know why God allows these kinds of things to happen.

  7. “There’s no “how-to” with Love…it’s just simply a choice. And it’s one I want to make every day.”

    Oh, what a beautiful way to share the need for compassion…both for strangers and those closest to us. In every day and with every word I speak to my family or neighbors, I want to be filled with His love.

    What a beautiful gift in your writing. Thank you.

  8. “It’s true…broken is everywhere, and it comes in many forms.” So. Much. Amen. We are ALL broken in some way, and it helps with the loving everyone if we can remember that truth. It sounds weird to say thanks for breaking my heart with this post, but thanks. This is simply wrenching.

    • You’re welcome. :) I know what you’re saying…I’m thankful that my heart broke over this man, too. God used it all to teach me to have more compassion for others. Blessings, friend. :)

  9. Beautiful post. It is words like these that make me know, make me remember how blessed I am. How much I have never known that kind of want or need. How in my most desperate of times, I have still been utterly loved and cared for. And how much more I can relate to this each and every time He brings me to my knees. Each time it makes me a little more willing and able to see those hurting around me and take the focus off myself. Thank you friend for that reminder today

    • Thank you for sharing that, friend. It’s a continual thing for me, too…to remember that I am so incredibly blessed and taken care of. I can’t believe that sometimes I justify complaining about the silliest things when I’ve got the reminder of true need in my heart forever. Blessings, friend…I hope you have a great week. :)

  10. I linked up also with Crystal’s Behind the Scenes! What a beautiful, heart wrenching post. Thank you for sharing.

  11. There’s this guy, Eddie, who begs at the stoplights near work. He asked me once for shoes, and I bought him shoes. The other day he said he had the flu and was sick, so I got him a bottle of water and a cold and flu remedy. He has asked me for seeds to plant on the sidewalk so that he and the other beggars in the area can have food. September is Spring out here in South Africa and I plan on giving him a tray of seedlings for tomatoes, carrots, spinach, potato. I have no idea what Eddie’s story is. But I help where I can.

    In Buddhism, we are reminded by beggars that Buddha too would go from village to village and teach for a bowl of food. Sure, there are those who beg so that they can get high or buy alcohol, but if Eddie is asking for seeds to plant for food, I reckon he’s a genuine guy and wants to help the other homeless people around him.

    I see Eddie every day. He reminds me to be humble and grateful. I have no idea what I do for him, but he has become a great teacher.

    • The way you are reaching out to Eddie and making a difference in his life is really beautiful. It’s so easy to just walk by…thank you for not doing that. Blessings, friend…thank you for sharing this. :)

  12. Wow. That is tough. You are such a compassionate soul. Blessings to you. I went to college in Austin where there was a large number of homeless who congregated around campus. It was sad and scary to be around them. Most were mentally ill. I know I did not handle it well and I would like to handle it differently, but I am often unsure what would help and what would hurt. Usually, I just offer a silent prayer for them. Thanks for getting me to think more about it.

    • There were many times when I felt all I could do was pray, too…and there’s nothing wrong with that. Prayer is always good. :) This man was different, though…there was something we could do, without even getting out of our car no less, and that’s why we chose to help him. You are a blessing, friend…I hope your week is going well. :)

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