Wednesday, August 26, 2009

::Warthog's Tears::

know God is doing a heart reno in me when I begin to feel genuine compassion for those I normally wouldn't. The other day the kids and I were at the park when a Day Camp swarmed the structure. There was a boy who immediately stood out from the rest. He was pushing and shoving kids left, right and center, throwing sand; a stereotypical "bad kid." And they kept calling him "Warthog." (Special camp name, I'm assuming.) The appropriateness of which was, no doubt, lost on no one, as he spent most of his time rampaging through the yard, bulldozing anything that stood in his way. At one point, after having really hit the mark with two big handfuls of sand, a mommy bystander went to talk with one of the staff members. The boy was taken off to the side to be dealt with.

When I am particularly callous and topped up with pride, I have no patience for anyone else's parenting. And as this kid was lead away by the staff girl for a talking-to, I was braced for a watered-down, ineffective session that didn't penetrate the boy's skin. Didn't happen. Instead, she wrapped her arms around him, held him and simply asked; "why would you hurt a friend?" He burst into full-body, heaving sobs. He huddled into her arms and stayed there crying for a very long time. When she asked him if he wanted to go play, he shook his head. He wanted to stay there in her arms. And it hit me so intensely. He just wanted to be touched. To be paid attention to. Don't we all? When we've been left untouched, unnoticed, unloved for too long, don't we act out in our own unique ways? Acid-tongued words. Invented dramas. Embellished victories. Look-at-me clothes or haircuts. . . And it takes a rare person to look beyond the unattractive character--to completely set aside judgment-- and see someone who needs a bit of love.

Since "Warthog's" tears, my eyes have been opened to many examples of love-needy people, wrapped in ugly externals. This includes me. I have had one big bad attitude lately because my pride is currently taking a beating. I'm socially out of the loop, hauling around 35 extra pounds and way out of the lime-light. I can feel the resentments seeping in. I am handing out small unkindnesses and feeling perversely satisfied when someone else joins me on this uglier side of things.

Warthog's tears have begun to mend me. And I know why. Because for five minutes I was completely absorbed in him. Not me. I wanted to be the girl with my arms around him. I wanted him to feel loved and wanted. That kind of outward focus really does a number on pride and nurtured resentments.

The book of James says that if we indulge ourselves long enough, we will find ourselves packed full of poor character. We come to God with our hands open and then self-spend. Once we've used up all our resources, we keep on asking for more. When more never comes, we turn ugly. James points out the better way: Strip down to humility and be showered with grace. Ask from God in order to give. He'll show us where to spend our grace. He will give us the eyes to see who most needs our arms wrapped around them.

Look inward. Who have you been thinking about? You? Look for someone else's tears. Dry them up with your love.