Living in a big city for the past 5 years, I’ve found how easy it can be to disconnect from the humanity of others. Riding public transportation is especially desensitizing. Day after day you are squished into a packed bus or train or subway car with crowds of people who are usually tired, cranky and sometimes quite angry. I’ve certainly had my moments of disgust at fellow commuters who push to the front of the line or refuse to move to the inside of a seat or won’t move to the back of the bus to allow room for others.
One day, shortly after Tyler’s diagnosis, I was standing on the bus heading into work and suddenly thought, “No one on here has any idea what I’m going through. I look like a normal commuter heading to my job yet inside I’m crumbling.” It hit me like a ton of bricks as I looked around at the other passengers.
I, too, had no idea what these strangers might be dealing with in their lives.
When I get wrapped up in myself and my own problems (and let’s face it, don’t we spend most of our time thinking about ourselves and our own agendas?), I tend to forget that the people around me may be struggling, too. The woman next to me on the bus, talking loudly on her cell phone, could be dealing with a sick child or a cheating husband or a dead-end job that doesn’t pay the bills. We just don’t know.
God instructs us to have compassion and mercy for each other and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our neighbors are not just the people we have relationship with or who live next door. Our neighbors include everyone we come in contact with, especially those who are different from us.
I’m humbled by the way others seem to show mercy and compassion much more readily than me and ashamed by how poorly I live this command in my day to day life.
So I’m incredibly grateful for my crumbling moments in the presence of others because that’s where God reveals to me the power of mercy and compassion. In my own brokenness, I can more clearly see the brokenness of others. And how desperately we need kindness from strangers.
If we are willing to let it, suffering can soften our hearts and deepen our desire to see the wonderful value God sees in others, regardless of how much they anger or irritate us. And in recognizing this humanity, God will show us all the opportunities we have to bless others with compassion.
We have so much power in how we treat others. Our words and actions can heal or they can hurt. Let’s walk in the example of Jesus and choose to be healers.
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.