Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Prayed for Compassion

I prayed to have compassion, because it is a skill that I lack. (Seriously, ask my husband. He may be polite & I am more forthright with him, but I have a distinct lack of compassion when I feel that the choices people make put them in their situation.)

I prayed to have compassion and suddenly difficulties arose in my life.

I never understood the loneliness felt by stay-at-home moms and at-home workers, until I was working at home and my husband was working outside the home. You see, for the first two years we were married, I was a student & as an introvert, I got enough "people time" that I was always grateful for alone time. Then for our third year of marriage, I was substituting, volunteering, and preparing to move to another country for ministry. Again, my need to be around people was always met. On our foreign mission field during our fourth year of marriage, I had generous amounts of quality time with my spouse, and spent my days in language classes and office work. I would feel "peopled-out" and enjoy my introvert time, content that I was a strong introvert, a 10/10 on the Myers-Briggs introversion-extroversion scale.

When we moved to Cactus, for the first month and a half we were here, my husband was at home with me all the time, as we settled in and started our volunteer work. "Alone time" meant that I was in one room and he was in another. Then, my husband went off to work for 8-10 hours a day. Then I realized that my need to be around people had always been met, leaving me to feel like the introvert of introverts. I was lonely. I felt isolated, because we were in a new place and so many of the people I knew were working during the day. I was alone, and then I began to understand the stories my friends & family members told me of feeling isolated & trapped at home, or of watching mindless tv shows just to have a semblance of human interaction.

I never understood scarcity until my pipes froze multiple times in our first winter in Cactus. Suddenly, I had no water, or limited water. I would fill bowls with water from the tub to wash dishes. It was inconvenient, but functional.

I didn't expect, when I prayed for compassion, that I would face difficulties that would allow me a greater sympathy with others. But maybe, if God just gave me compassion, I would not have valued it as much. Instead, God gave me empathy through shared experiences that allowed me to experience the compassion I so desperately wanted.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Would Jesus Do? A Review of In His Steps

I recently finished a book called In His Steps “What Would Jesus Do?” by Charles M. Sheldon. I realized after reading this book that this book may have been the driving force behind the WWJD? movement of the 90s. What surprised me about this possibility was In His Steps was published in 1897.

The basic premise of this book is this: a pastor challenges his congregation to commit to asking themselves the question "What would Jesus do?" and then doing what Jesus would do for the next year. People examine their actions, from newspaper tycoons, to rich heiresses, from business men, to thugs. At the same time, people, even other Christians, think that to try to live in a way Jesus would is fanatical, over-the-top, and weird.

As I read this book, the thought struck me, how would have Jesus acted in the 1990s when WWJD? become a popular slogan, making money for Christian publishing companies? Would He have made money from a pithy catchphrase? Would He have marketed it to the churches?

Those questions aside, the author makes a point of having each character decide what would Jesus do in their shoes, no one else's shoes. They acknowledged that another person in similar circumstances may be called to act differently. They just were to try to live their lives in a way that they thought Jesus would, while meeting with others of a similar mind to pray for and encourage each other. Some people would ask advice of others, but the ultimate decision was each individual's, because each individual would be standing before God one day, answering for their actions.

I recommend this book. It is challenging, but it also makes me wonder, what would the world look like if every Christian asked themselves "What would Jesus do in my situation?" and then went & did that thing?