Yesterday, I was sitting in my bedroom with my oldest son doing math homework, when I heard the most horrible sound. One of our neighbors was screaming at her 5 year old son. Not just "raising her voice", but literally screaming at him. The poor kid didn't even do anything wrong, but not even a minute later, the slapping started. She slapped him across the face several times, and he was crying, "Mommy, please stop!" I had to close my window to shut out the sounds. I cried, and I prayed, but I felt so helpless. We've been witnessing to this lady for the last several years, yet she hasn't softened toward spiritual things. My heart aches for her little boy and the environment he is growing up in (the screaming I heard yesterday was not a first-time occurence). Most would see him as the victim, but the mother is a victim too...and my heart breaks for her. I know she loves her son, but she is so anxious and angry all the time. I find myself wondering what her story is...why she reacts in such a negative way to her son, one of the most precious gifts she will ever have.
Just recently we saw an accident on the side of the road. It was holding up traffic for awhile, and everyone around us on the road was getting impatient. People were honking their horns, trying to find ways to get through and carry on with their own lives. No one seemed concerned for the people that were actually involved in the accident. I was just as anxious as everyone else to arrive at my destination, but I couldn't help but stop to think about the people that were affected by the accident. Any type of injury or death has the power to change the lives of an entire family...and even if the accident only damaged the vehicles, that is still a difficult blow to deal with. As I began to pray, I became very aware of how thankful I should be that I was only stuck in traffic and not part of the accident myself. My heart was saddened for the people that were dealing with an accident instead of arriving at their planned destinations...but I was just beginning to see that they weren't the only ones who needed my compassion. My heart began to break for all the other people- the people who were so busy honking their horns and getting angry about the holdup that they couldn't find it in themsleves to have compassion on someone else. Why do we so often worry about things more than we worry about other people?
I have been asking God recently to give me more love towards the people around me. I want to be more compassionate, and I want to extend mercy to others the way that God does to me. I want my heart to break for the things that break God's heart. I want to stop criticizing people for doing stupid things, because oftentimes they are suffering already from the choices they make or the circumstances that happen around them. Besides, we all do stupid things. Why do I get mad at the guy who was so rude to me in the grocery store when I have been known to be rude myself? It's so easy to excuse my rudeness- "Maybe I shouldn't have spoken with that tone, but I only slept 2 hours last night 'cuz the baby was teething and I am just so tired out." It's easy to justify our own behavior because we know the story behind it. Isn't it possible that the rude man at the grocery store has a story too? Maybe he's taking care of a sick relative, or maybe his wife just left him. We don't always know...but IF we did know his story, would that change our reaction to him? Would we be more compassionate toward him, or would we continue to judge him? God, please help me to see others through eyes of compassion. Break my heart for what breaks yours.