By Sarah Layne
Im rarely dirty. I mean really dirty: dirt under my fingernails, mud on my knees, dust on my face kind of dirty. Growing up I was covered in such filth as many-a-child would be, but in my old age (okay, not so old age), Ive replaced the imprints of my knees in the dirt with a 56 impression on the couch. Ive become lazy in getting down in the dirt where life is just a little messier.
Sadly, I think this unfortunate tendency has given way to a similar pattern in my life with people. Im in danger of thinking Im doing just fine by listening to the burdens of those closest to me and praying with them over the phone. I dare to think that I am being Christ-like by sacrificing some time, when more often then not, I am selfishly thinking of what I have to do next. I may be wrong, but I dont think this is how our Savior operated when He was walking this earth.
When He was with people, He was really with them; not thinking about how He was going to multiply fish and bread for the next crowd or how on earth (or in Heaven) he would make Peter be quiet long enough to learn how to trust Him. Jesus understood and embodied what it meant to love your neighbor as yourself. After all, He did command it. I dont interrupt myself as I think so why should I interrupt a loved-ones story with my own agenda?
I think we are losing sight of what it means to love and replacing it instead with concern for ourselves. I put myself at the top of the list. We have taken the simplicity out of loving others and made it more complex than it was ever intended to be.
The Lord decided to teach me this lesson recently in the most unlikely of places: on a cold tiled floor. In my field of work I meet a lot of hurting people. I try to empathize but part of me wants to distance myself from their pain in hope of better catering to their needs. Im not sure where this brilliant idea came from, but Im here to say that is not the way to help anyone.
I found myself with a person who was barely managing to push out intelligible words through tear-soaked-eyes. She had years of bottled up pain and fear she was carrying totally alone. She huddled down in the fetal position on the cold tile of the bathroom floor. And there I was, crouching next to her listening but all-the-while wondering if I should stay crouched or sit on the floor next to her. My hold-up: I dont want my khaki cargo pants from Express to get dirty.
God took the opportunity to quickly knock me down and instill some much needed humility in my spirit. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my thoughts and actions in this situation. I stretched out my legs and sat down on the cold, dirty floor of the womens bathroom. And instead of focusing on the state of my pants, God gave me compassion for the crying woman next to me. He reminded me of Himself and the dirty places He walked and sat all for the sake of His beloved. My only response was to hang my head and utter, Im sorry.
I dont share this to praise myself by any means but instead to praise God for His work in my heart. He never would have hesitated to sit down on a cold bathroom floor. Why not? Its simple: because the radiance of His love and humility wouldnt allow it.
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Sarah is a recent graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University now pursuing God’s call on her life in her corner of the world. She whole-heartedly hopes His will includes crisp cool fall days to come with hot chocolate (or cider), yellow and orange leaves and pumpkin-pie ice cream.