Most of the day, when I am at my desk, I generally listen to music. The volume is very low, but the music has a way of helping me study and think. Most of the time I listen to something mellow. I generally listen through iTunes or Last.fm. (Are you familiar with Last.fm? I love it! They bill themselves as "personalized Internet radio." Also, it is free.)
While at my desk yesterday, I read an article in the Waco Tribune Herald about a woman who died this week and was found inside an outdoor heating and air conditioning unit at a local middle school. This woman was only a few steps away from her home where she lived by herself.
She was 68 years old and the daughter of a former mayor of Waco (1960s). During her childhood years, her parents were wealthy and a popular couple in our city. Meanwhile, what was unknown to many people was that they had a daughter. She was rarely seen in public with them. This daughter had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. One friend of the family said, "This was just a tragic family."
Years later, this woman married and continued to live in Waco. I met her one day when she came by the office. We had a brief conversation and she went on her way.
The word "tragic" seems to fit.
I was thinking today about a few other tragic situations I have seen:
- A high school student raised in a setting where few, if anyone, really seemed to care about him. He became angry and defiant during his teen years. He seemed starved for whatever positive attention any adult might give him.
- A young man whose parents divorced when he was at a very critical age. He spent his early twenties roaming from one job to another. He bounced from one relationship to the next. In his mid-twenties, he seemed very, very lost.
- An older woman whose son committed suicide years ago. Since that day, she has pulled away from friends and family and has become a very bitter and angry person through the years.
These are tragedies. These are just three examples, but I could go on and on citing numerous situations with various people.
I am impressed that Jesus looked at people like this and saw them for what they were. They were helpless and lost. He spoke of them as being "… sheep without a shepherd." He saw their need and felt compassion (Matthew 9:36-38).
If I were to look through his eyes, what would I see? How does this compare with what I see through my own eyes?
Sometimes, I will deal with a person who is just hard to figure out. I have found it helpful to imagine what that person might have been like as a child. Somewhere inside this adult, is this child. Jesus has known this person since she was a child. He sees more than her obnoxious behavior or her foul attitude. He sees this person as someone created by the Father and in desperate need of an ongoing relationship with the one who made her.
Now, I would like to see people like that.