ON FIRE by Ellie Israelsen

On Fire by Ellie Israelsen 


I care a lot. I think hard. I feel deeply. Sometimes that scares me. Sometimes I feel embarrassed that I want to cry when I hold a newborn baby, or when I watch the news sobbing because I see the things innocent people are facing when I’m not. Sometimes I feel stupid because I like to write, and read, and overthink things. Sometimes I feel too deeply and care too much, but I’ve recently realized that I am supposed to be that way. It’s not shameful or negative. I should be proud of it.

About a week ago, I got the opportunity to listen to an incredible girl speak about living and teaching in Columbia for a few months. She was on fire. She was passionate about her work there, and changing people’s lives. It was amazing, and inspired me more than ever. She talked about how it’s okay to be on fire. In other words, it’s okay to care too much. In fact it is the only way to care.

We are all set on fire about something right? We all have something, or maybe a few things in our life that we care so deeply and fiercely about that it creates this sort of flame within us. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone comes here with something they feel strongly about. Listen to that. It is not random. That thing doesn’t just happen to set you on fire for no reason. You are supposed to do something with it. Chase it, follow it, achieve it.

About a year ago, I watched an incredible movie called “The Good Lie.” It’s a true story about a Sundanese village being destroyed. It shows what four sweet, young, innocent children had to go through to make it to safety in America after their whole family had been killed. This lit me on fire. I cried my eyes out and I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I knew this was a spark of something that I had to do, so I furiously followed it, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m now the refugee director of a service board at my school, and volunteer weekly at a refugee mentoring program. It has opened my eyes and my heart more than I could have ever imagined. I have so many incredible people who have gone through so much, and given so much of themselves to find safety for themselves and their loved ones. I want to change every single one of their lives for the better. I want to change the world.

Will I change the world? As a whole universe full of billions of souls that need help, probably not. But I can impact a person. I can help them feel loved, important, capable and significant. And that person’s light and love will impact another, and on and on and on. So I guess in way that is changing the world. Slowly, but nevertheless changing.

Find your spark. It’s not random. It’s not by chance. You should feel fiercely about something, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Be on fire.


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