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How I found compassion
It was a true story and the boy was just like me.
Although we were worlds apart, he touched my heart. Mine was cold, hard like stone. My mind was uncaring, manipulating, controlling.
I found power in those things and I was becoming good at them. I liked the power, I suppose everybody does. But it was wrong. I hurt those around me with my indifference. I didn’t care. Never cried and never felt much emotion. (hardly ever anyway) I don’t know why, there was no reason for my attitude. Perhaps it is a normal part of becoming a teenager. Perhaps I thought it made me cool, but it really didn't.
And then I met the boy.
His story was buried deep in the Reader’s Digest my parents had delivered to the house each month. I was only 13, lived at home and loved to read everything in sight.
My heart was about to change.
He was only 12, cold like me; hard, tough and unbreakable. But I saw in him emptiness and loneliness. He was lost, filled with anger and hate. He had a reason I didn’t have, his parents didn’t love him.
Neglected and abandoned most of his life, he grew up on the streets. No protection, no one to care, he had to fight just to eat. But someone found him and took him in, to a shelter with kids just like him. He ignored the others, talked to no one, never laughed or smiled. No one could reach him, no matter how kind. They didn’t know what to do. The months went by and still he withdrew, they were afraid he would run away.
Then Christmas came and under the tree was a present just for him. Christmas was new to him, the lights, the music, the excitement. He had never had a present before.
He felt excitement build within. He tried not to smile. It was hard to stay distant. Who could blame him? He was still just a kid. He dreamed about what was inside the mysterious gift.
Would it be a baseball glove and bat? Legos or Tinker toys? A new book all his own that had never been read before? The possibilities were endless.
Everyone else had opened their gifts and still his remained perfectly wrapped. He savored the anticipation. This was a new experience for him and he wanted it to last as long as possible. Finally he could stand it no longer and off the paper came.
His gift was a simple Teddy bear, a baby’s toy in his mind. A lifetime of disappointments, crushed hopes, despair and rejection welled up inside him. He couldn’t hold it back one more time.
With an angry shout, “stupid bear, stupid baby present, stupid, stupid!” He grabbed the bear, ripped its head off, and ran crying from the room.
The adults looked at one another and sighed. They had given him their best, this wasn’t working out. They would find a new place for him in the morning. Perhaps someone else would be able to reach him before it was too late. They had failed. There was nothing else to do.
But the story wasn’t over.
After everyone had gone out to play and the room was quiet and empty the boy snuck back in.
He was found there later by the kind lady who ran the place. Tears of remorse and regret for his actions were running down his face. He held the teddy gently in his hands. Desperately he was trying to push the stuffing back in and tape it back together. No one had ever cared enough to give him a present before. He was deeply sorry for destroying the only symbol of love he had ever had in his life.
Regardless of what it was.
The lady walked over to the cabinet and pulled out a sewing kit. Gently taking the bear from the young boy’s hands, she sewed it back together. It wasn’t perfect, but when she handed it back to him she was well rewarded.
He had the most beautiful smile she had ever seen.
Tears ran down my face as I pictured the boy with his roll of tape, trying to fix his little bear. I cried for him, but I also cried for myself. How could I, who had everything, be so cold and controlling? While this boy, who had nothing, was able to feel sorry for his actions?
The boy was a different person after that. He stayed at the Home and opened his heart to the love around him. He blossomed and grew into a beautiful person.
I was different too.
I had been given a glimpse into the future. I saw how lonely the path I was on would turn. I didn’t want to be the person I was becoming.
I asked God for compassion. And promised to become the person He wanted me to be.
I no longer wanted to be arrogant and selfish. I felt sorry for my actions and attitudes. For the first time, I understood that my pride was sin. In fact, everything about me was sinful.
For some reason this story helped me to see that sin hurt people. That was why it deserved punishment. Thankfully I already knew that Jesus Christ had died to take that punishment for me. I knew if I repented I would be forgiven. I responded by becoming a slave to Jesus Christ.
I gave him my life and vowed to do all he asks me to do.
Now my life is not perfect but it is good. As long as I am obeying God, I am at peace. Even when my life seems to be falling apart around me, or I don’t know how I’m going to make it around the next bend.
Sometimes I grow stubborn and insist on having my own way. Then things don’t work out so well until I remember that God loves me and he knows what is best.
Then I repent and once again I’m forgiven and all is well.
Years later as an adult I found myself working at a children’s shelter. It wasn’t until someone commented on how compassionate I was that I remembered asking God for just that. I realized that He had answered my prayer spoken so many years before. I had forgotten about almost the same moment it was uttered. The memory lost in the discovery of so many new things in that instant.
But God didn’t forget.
And that is how I found compassion.