From Darcy: In The Yes Effect Book Club this week, we’re responding to Invitation 2: Open Your Heart. If I could give this chapter an alternate title, I would rename it “Break Your Heart.” In an over-connected world, as we’re bombarded on our screens with need after need and trauma after trauma, we may find ourselves overstimulated and overwhelmed. As one friend, Barb Dillard, said, “So often in this world of technology, I feel like I’ve been given omniscience without omnipotence.” We see great need but feel powerless to help. To make ourselves feel better, we often react in ways that make us feel less. But as my friend, Trina Cress, shares below, by choosing to look away and ignore the painful things in front of us, we are limiting our own God-given potential. Trina helps us see that empathy is a superpower, one that we can find under our hardened exteriors. Before we can make a move, we need to be moved. Before we can find our heartbeat, we need to allow our petrified hearts to break.

By Trina Cress

Early in my marriage and motherhood, I needed motivation to “do hard things,” a phrase we often used to motivate our daughter. For me, doing hard things meant tapping into my inner Wonder Woman to get everything done—fulltime work, home upkeep, child caring, or at least getting out of bed to attempt it all.

Truth was, I really didn’t know much about Wonder Woman. I figured that, as a superhero, she set aside her emotions and feelings to gather courage to save the world. In my own small way, I tried to do the same—attempting my best to feel less so I could do more. I tuned out the cries of hurting people in a hurting world for the sake of caring for my own people.

Even when I’m sitting in the quiet—no social media, no TV, no radio—I can still hear the chaos roll through my mind. Can’t you?

The tragedies and needs around the world, and here in my own hometown, are palpable. As I sit safely in my home, quite literally in Middle America, the world’s needs still beg for my attention. Often I only return to my apathy, because feeling is just too much. Or so I’ve thought.



When I think of all the times I tried to conjure up my own inner Wonder Woman to do hard things in my life, I realize I had it backwards. I needed to open my heart, not close it off. It’s empowering to think of our heart stirrings not as a weakness, but a key part in acting with courage.

-Trina Cress

Take Heart

It struck me when I watched the recent Wonder Woman movie that her feelings were the very thing that motivated her. She refused to accept that there was nothing she could do to help innocent people caught in war. She didn’t yet know fully who she was or what she was capable of, yet she moved forward anyway knowing she had to do something.

When I think of all the times I tried to conjure up my own inner Wonder Woman to do hard things in my life, I realize I had it backwards. I needed to open my heart, not close it off. It’s empowering to think of our heart stirrings not as a weakness, but a key part in acting with courage.

Chapter 2 of The Yes Effect says: “One whose heart beats like God’s heart cannot turn away from those who are suffering. …God wants to break our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh so we can feel what He feels. God knows that when we don’t allow ourselves to feel, we become too hardened to act.”

Over the years, I learned to freeze my heart in self-preservation. I lived in self-defeating independence, isolation, and even ignorance. This was especially noticeable in my gut reaction to human trafficking.

Moved to Compassion

When I first heard about human trafficking, I wanted to turn away and stay comfortable. It gave me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It hurt my heart and my mind to think about girls as young as my daughter facing such horrors. To make it worse, this wasn’t just happening far away in another part of the world (not that that would make it any better). I learned that 200 people are sold for sex in my hometown each month. As the saying goes, this is happening in our backyards.

My first reaction was to protect myself. It was just too much for me to even think about, so I did my best to close myself off from it. These words from The Yes Effect became my reality: “Hopelessness and unchecked fear petrify us, harden our hearts, and leave us too tense to help the wounded and weary.”

I was doing nothing to get rid of the fear, which actually gave it power to distract me. It was time to turn the fear over to God, knowing if He wanted to show me a need in this world, I would do well to pay attention.

I started with allowing the discomfort and taking it on my knees in prayer. I started supporting organizations like Love Justice International (, which does a good work helping intercept people from being trafficked. When I’m not able to donate, I follow their work online so that I know how to pray for them and when to celebrate their successes.

Their One Girl Prayer Bracelet is a daily reminder for me to pray by name for a girl they have intercepted from being trafficked and for their work as a whole. I even talk about this issue in age-appropriate ways with my kids, helping them learn to open their own hearts to present needs.

A little bit at a time, I’m replacing my fear of the darkness with faith in the hope, light, and goodness of God; and I’m teaching my kids to do the same.


Not Alone

This is just one of so many ways God is shining His light in dark places through courageous people willing to open their hearts to Him. It is so encouraging to know that just as I’m not alone in these fears, I’m even more so not alone in the faith. I am encouraged by people who feel deeply for the needs around them until they’re moved to courageous action.

Sometimes I’ve falsely assumed that focusing on God meant looking past the tragedies of this world. Instead, I’ve seen God point my open heart back to the hurts and needs around me, taking His hope with me where it’s needed most—even as I support from afar, while caring for my kids.

Now I understand tapping into my inner Wonder Woman means being open to God’s moving. Feeling the pain in the world, then doing something about it, seems to be the very thing that helps me uncover Whose I am and what I’m capable of through Him.

Trina Cress is a writer, wife, and mother of 3 from The Good Life of Nebraska. She writes about growing life simply and faithfully, sometimes on her blog and more often on Instagram.

Visit Trina’s blog and download the “unofficial book guide” for The Yes Effect to use in your personal development or with a small group.