Sunday, July 22, 2007

Compassion

The other day a man got onto the bus. He was dressed in jeans that were tattered and stained from whatever work he did. He was probably in his early forties but life had taken its toll on him. His face was marked from severe acne but also from years of neglect. His fingers were stained from years of smoking cigarettes. He didn’t meet anyone’s eye. He trudged to the back – carrying himself as if he had a really bad flu. There was a sideways facing seat in front of me but he elected to sit in the very back. In the heat that seat is one to avoid if you can.

I have lived around people who struggle with alcohol abuse all of my life. I recognized that this man was hung over. He smelled like alcohol. It wasn’t necessarily his breath; in fact I doubt that he had been drinking in the last few hours. He smelled like stale alcohol. The alcohol inhabited his body now. He was trapped by it. I could tell he was one of those people who were barely functioning alcoholics. He went to work most of the time. He was good at his work and didn’t cause a lot of trouble. The problem would come when he crossed the line and didn’t come to work for a while. Depending on how much grace his employers had he might have skipped around from job to job a lot.

I was overwhelmed with compassion for this man. I thought about what it must be like to live that way – going to work hung over every day, keeping your head down hoping no one will notice you, hoping you can keep it together long enough to get through the day, go home, and have some beer. I thought about his family and how much he had probably hurt them despite his best intentions. Had they given up on him?

I prayed for a miracle for this man. I prayed that he would find help and hope. I also prayed for his family, for God to comfort them. I was chocked up with tears.

The man got off the bus before me and I didn’t notice. He would have had to pass me as he walked over to the door. I just glanced behind me and he was gone. I wonder how many people slip by me. I was glad that I had at least had the compassion to pray for this man.
Because of some of the experiences I have had active alcoholics usually make me angry. I found myself surprised at the level of compassion I had for this man. God helped me see him through his eyes. We all deserve love. We all deserve someone to pray for us

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If only more peolpe would see things the way you did. I'm sure he went unoticd by most of the occupants of the bus. I'm glad you wrote his story, it should be told. we should not always scold but offer compassion.
S.G

Stephanie said...

When I read your post, it reminded me of why Jesus came to earth. He became a man and lived among us, and He can tell us now that He can sympathize, that He has gone through the same things. Very rarely do people look at each other the way God sees them. It's cool that the Lord gave you a glimpse into this man's life, and made you compassionate towards him. I believe that is a demonstration of the Holy Spirit at work in your life. We are God's ambassadors here, and you demonstrated His work in you. That's awesome!

Oh, by the way, S.G. is also my initials, but the above post isn't mine!