bus stops and missed opportunities.

something to think about. pray about. 

don't do yourself a disservice by ignoring the core of what these words are igniting in you.


"he approaches me at the bus stop when all i want to do is go home and be left in peace. he offers me a furtive smile, and sits down a little too close. 

on the other end of the bench, his girlfriend lies prostrate, sobbing uncontrollably. she's at least six inches taller than him, decked out in goth regalia, her lips painted blood red. she sports a Led Zepplin t-shirt, a band that broke up long before anyone event thought of conceiving her. clutching at her stomach, she moans, sobs, and shakes while her boyfriend comes over to talk to me. all i am is tired, and i don't want any part of this. 

"can you come sit by us, mate?" he pleads. "my girlfriend is really upset. she just had her second miscarriage." the words hit me like a blow to the gut. second miscarriage? good grief. by the looks of her, she cant be out of her teens. 

i want nothing less than to go sit by this domestic sideshow. still, i sidle up next to them as the boy tries to console his crying girlfriend. she yells at him to leave her alone and he leans in to talk to me. 

"we're too young to have a baby, aye?" what in particular would make me an authority on that? still, i ask him how old they are. he's 18, she's 16. and this is their second miscarriage. they should be worrying about report cards and school formals. instead, they're dealing with the termination of a life. "it's a blessing in disguise, aye? we're too young." he says, again seeking wisdom i don't feel i have to offer. i can't even stammer out a hackneyed platitude to help. i'm utterly without words for the situation. if i feel anything, it's a mild irritation at the fact that i moved to New Zealand to absorb beauty, and i've been thrust against my will face to face with the ugliness of reality. "why me?" i keep wondering. "why ask a total stranger at a bus stop to sit shiva with you?" the boy keeps leaning over to try to comfort his girlfriend, apologizing over and over for getting her pregnant. again. she keeps yelling that she wants to be left alone. i keep checking my watch, begging for the bus to come. i think of telling him to leave her be for right now. just let her cry. instead, i sit next to him in silence. 

mercifully, the bus arrives, but to my horror, they ask me to sit with them there as well. i oblige, and do my best to make it seem like it's not a problem. like i don't mind connecting myself to the anguish of these strangers. the boy keeps asking my advice, and i wait for my pastoral instinct to kick in. wait for the words of wisdom and encouragement i'm so used to offering friends in difficult situations. they never come. instead, we talk about music. it's the only subject i feel qualified for right now. he thanks me over and over for sitting with them, tells me he likes me. that i'm a good guy. i don't feel like such a  good guy when i've been viewing their catastrophe as nothing more than an obstacle to my own relaxation. they needed a big brother. they got an impatient commuter, too self-absorbed to deal with the hassle they presented. 

it's amazing how easy empathy is from a distance.

kids far too young for the dirty reality of surprise pregnancies and painful miscarriages experience these things all the time, and my heart breaks for them when they're not sitting next to me on the bus. 

why is it so hard to live out my faith when humanity in all of its ugliness is staring me in the face? 

i have no problem offering heartfelt financial support for organizations that deal with situations like this. 

why is it that when God offers me an opportunity to show His love in a practical way, all i want is to be left alone? i find i fail time and time again when i am so obviously being called to be Jesus to those right in front of me. 

the sad fact is, distant acts of macro-charity will always be easier. as much as we're told that money has it's hold on society, time and empathy are the real commodities people are unwilling to part with. we're all for helping the broken and downtrodden, just not on our ride home after a long day. 

the life Jesus actually calls us to, by contrast, is much messier than buying a cause-driven t-shirt or sending money to a nonprofit organization. it's the one that gets down in the muck of the human experience and lives with the people there. it shares the pain of the widow and the orphan, the oppressed and unlovable. this life is not something jesus suggested. it's something He mandated. 

while supporting global causes is both necessary and noble, we can't be self-satisfied in our efforts if we ignore the hurting people around us. ending the AIDS crisis in Africa is not only worthwhile, it is imperative. but what about those living with AIDS in our own communities. am i being naive in believing we can make a difference locally without sacrificing our concern globally? 

the ultimate question is, will we take a risk to put a face to the problems we give lip service to? 

i hope the next time i'm offered the chance to show the love of Christ, i won't be so self centered as to only recognize it in hindsight. in my attitude, if not my actions, i failed those kids on the bus. 

however, i know God continues to bring me in contact day after day with people who need to see His love. 

may we all seek opportunities to sacrifice things more valuable that money. "

1 comment:

Becky said...

dude. read that article a few days ago! sooooo good!