It’s been about a week since we decided to say goodbye to Facebook. For those of you who are now perplexed because you’ve followed a link from Facebook to read this – well I’ve found a way to run the not-so-perfect page without spending much of my time on fb at all … genius. (maybe a slight over statement.)
One of the things that I have noticed since we left is that life around me is more complicated and heartbreaking than I’d noticed it to be for a while.
This week has been an unusual one for us. We have spent a significant amount of time sitting in waiting rooms. Three days out of the past five, the man has had appointments at the local-ish diagnostic imaging centre and for most of that time I’ve been sitting in the waiting room with him, or waiting for him.
Disclaimer: before you read on – or start frantically messaging us – the tests are to work out why the heck his blood pressure is so high. So far, no one has suggested it has anything to do with me 🙂 … winning! Also, when we know — you’ll know. For now, you can pray for him.
Today was a day when all of the “people watching” (sounds a bit creepy – not meant to) I’ve been doing as I wait, got the better of me.
Two people in particular brought tears to my eyes. Maybe I’m a bit emotional at the moment? Or maybe I’m just a little more awake now?
One was a man who was dropped off at the front desk of the imaging centre by a friend. I guess he was a friend I’m not sure. And while I don’t like the phrase “dropped off” – that really is the best way to describe the interaction.
The man was very frail and unsteady on his feet, he had to lean on the reception desk to support himself. To me, he looked as though he was probably only in his 60s but they appeared to have been difficult years. He was weak, he was thin. He tried to make his way to a chair instead of waiting for the wheelchair the receptionist was bringing to him. Several of us watched him as he edged towards the chair, a few of us moved to help him as he appeared to be about to lose his balance but he landed on the chair unassisted. Then moments later, with the help of the receptionist, he moved from the chair to the wheelchair with the same three people poised on the edge of their seats to help.
Once he was seated in the wheelchair, he stared at the floor. To me he looked quite sad and forlorn, I felt tears welling up in my eyes.
I think it was Christ in me who prompted me to check if he’d like a drink of water from the fountain close by — that sounds like Christ in me.
Unfortunately, Anne in me overruled: Just leave him be. What kind of person goes up to a complete stranger to offer them a drink?
As I write now, I have the answer. Followers of Christ, we all know exactly what kind of person does that.
We saw the second person as we waited to get fuel today. Perhaps foolishly, we decided to get fuel from Costco, on our way home. We had to get the fuel or we wouldn’t have made it home – so that wasn’t the foolish part – the location was perhaps the foolish part. The week has been quite stressful enough without adding an avoidable breakdown into the mix. Side note: we can now tell you the worst possible time of day to buy fuel at Costco.
We sat and waited for some time, in the rather long queue. Normally, at that point, I would have popped on to Facebook (again) to see what was going on in the world. Instead we sat and observed what was happening around us. It seems we were the witnesses to a young man’s final day of work in the fuel area at Costco. His co-worker hugged him goodbye – she looked like she might have been a bit of a work mum to him. His father was there with him standing off to the side as the young guy started to sob – his co-worker tried to console him a little – but it was clear that life had to go on and she still had work to do.
So the young man and his father moved on – the father head down, studying his phone. The son sobbing as they walked away from the office.
Yes, I cried a little.
Partly because I’m not sure what I am meant to do when I see these things. Is it enough for me to simply pray that they will be drawn to the One who cares? Or should I do more? Are we meant to get out of our cars? What are we meant to do?
There are people all around us whose hearts are breaking for one reason or another. Maybe that’s why we don’t like to look up from our phones. When we do we don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to meet the gaze of the suffering, masses or individuals. Even now as I reflect on it I’m reminded of a poem my year 11 English students study – “An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow”.
So, I’m thankful for this week, the week where my spare time has not been spent gazing at Facebook. I’ve not spent my time reading article after article about disgraced footballers, celebrities who have fallen from grace, or disgraced politicians. I’ve not been reading about the latest misspoken or ill spoken word and as a result I think I’ve been experiencing less self-righteous indignation about this and that …
Having stepped out of the social media haze I’d been in, I’ve discovered that the world as whole is in fact still broken, maybe more broken than I’d realised. The consequences of the fall are all around us and we’d be wise to open our eyes to the suffering of the people around us.
The waiting and watching of this week can be easily summarised:
- It is hard to be just like Jesus if we aren’t prepared to move out of our comfort zone..
- For most people as much as they want to be seen – more importantly they want to be heard. And sadly, most of us are happy to see and move on.
- We need to know, understand and overcome the paralysis we feel when we want to do good.
- We need to see who is in front of us and recognise them as eternal beings.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
C. S. Lewis
- We, followers of Christ, need to be more like Him. We will not be moved with compassion as he was, if we don’t look up and see the people around us.
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)
Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” (Matthew 15:32)
So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. (Matthew 20:34)
Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (Mark 1:41)
When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” (Luke 7:13)