I know I’ve changed.
I admit that as I was growing up I cared more about what I could get rather than what I could give. Life had been hard for me and my family. My justification was that I should get the better deal in all things as vindication of all the crises we’d been through.
I felt elated when I was ushered ahead of other people because I knew someone influential in an office. Complaints from people lining up behind me meant nothing because I was not among them.
But as I said, I’ve changed.
Last week, I was in a government office to ask the status of my ID. At 6:45 a.m., the line was already long. I was, I think, the 80th in the line. The staffer in charge was taking his time dealing with each transaction.
People were complaining. One was on the verge of fainting. People before me could have arrived in the office as early as 4 or 5 a.m. And we were all standing in line unable to sit down or find a convenient wall to lean on.
I found myself talking with my neighbors about improvements the office could make in the system so people would not have to line up and stand for so long. I usually keep mum and leave things be.
After an hour and a half of standing and hearing complaints filled with frustration and cynical comments, I wanted out. But I looked at the long line of people ahead of and behind me and I asked myself, “What can I do about this problem?”
Honestly, I didn’t have to line up because the office manager was a dear friend. But see, that’s one change in me. Where before I used friends, relatives and all connections in the world to be treated well and served first, not so now. That day I lined up like everybody else. I guess God led me to do this so I could experience first-hand what others have to bear.
I got out of the line, went up to my friend’s office and told her every word of complaint from the people. Ialso presented to her the problem with my ID. It got solved in a jiffy.
Years back, that was all that mattered, m own welfare. Although I started to vent my frustrations to my friend, I was also more than thankful for her quick attention to my case because I was in my friend’s house. Many tired people were still left standing in line, while I was off able to attend to other things.
Then tears welled in my eyes. My friend was surprised. She knew me to be a tough cookie. She didn’t have any tissue paper so I kept wiping my tears as I continued to plead for better service in the office. For people who are less fortunate than me. For people who didn’t have managers for friends.
What was I really feeling? Sympathy or compassion? I sought a differentiation and found it in the blog “The Butterfly Voyage.”
SYMPATHY is the broadest feeling for others. For example: sympathy for the bereaved. But COMPASSION implies a deep sympathy for the sorrow of another person plus a powerful urge to remove the source of pain. For example: show compassion for homeless refugees.
I guess compassion was the dominant feeling that day. I felt a powerful urge to remove the pain or oppression of people, such that I sought the help of my friend-manager to push for procedural changes in the office so people could be attended to more quickly.
I am not a perfect being. Oh, I am so far away from being that. But I know I am striving to change from a selfish being to a compassionate Christian. By God’s grace, I want to follow what Jesus would do FOR OTHERS , for the downtrodden.
He taught us how in 1 Thessalonians 5:11-14: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
The next time we see others oppressed or mistreated, I pray we all will do the little we can to alleviate their plight. Any small act to help them is being a true Christian.
I have changed for good…not turning away anymore from others.
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