If we could see through the eyes of Jesus, what a different world would unfold before us.
If we had Christ’s compassion, we could experience the world as he did. I envision Christ watching our foolishness and clumsy attempts at holiness with the same love, compassion and humor that a parent has watching their child take its first, hesitant steps. He can see our determination, our weakness and our childish simplicity. It’s not that he would laugh at our efforts to be like him. But, he certainly would smile lovingly, and approve of our efforts, however misguided they may be at times. Sometimes we are privileged to see the
world around us through Christ’s eyes and with his compassion, and we see how beautiful
people are, despite all their failings.
This story comes from a bus trip that my wife and I took from Minneapolis out to South
Dakota in 2004. By the time that we boarded the bus in Minneapolis, we were already exhausted from a long bus ride up from Janesville, Wisconsin with a change of buses in Madison. But, let me tell you the story. Read it with Christ’s eyes, as I saw it.
A Bus Story
She got on in Minneapolis. I was sitting in the aisle seat, and she came in and sat down
on the aisle seat across from me, one row in front of us. We hadn’t even left the station
before she turned and started talking to me and my wife. At first, it was a three-way
conversation, but we’d been on the road for most of the day and soon my wife scrooched down into her chair and closed her eyes, and the woman was just talking to me. She
looked like she was probably in her mid or late 40’s, and her face looked lived in. Every
line had a story. She introduced herself as Sherri, and was noticeably shaken when I told her my name was Jerry. “I’m an identical twin,” she said. “My sister’s name was Jerry.
She died a long time ago, and I still miss talking to her. She was always there when I
Sherri was on the last leg of a long trip. She was on her way to see her husband, and she
poured out her life story. She met her husband when she was just 18, and they got married
a couple of weeks after they met. Four years after their daughter was born, they split up
and separated. Sherri didn’t give any reason why they split up… not because she was
inhibited, but because she was talking with such immediacy that the words were just tumbling out of her.
After she left her husband, she went through several other relationships and in recent years had been living with a man who was on drugs who was treating her like she was disposable. He was openly having an affair with another woman, which Sherri had accepted for a long time. She had even helped the woman he was having an affair with get a job where she worked and had helped her out financially. She felt trapped with the man and wanted to get out, but he kept threatening her about what he’d do if she left.
Among other things, he said he’d have her dog put to sleep. But finally, Sherri had to
accept that she’d have to take that chance.
Sherri finally reached the point where she was so depressed that she told her parents
everything. She didn’t want to go back to live with them, because they had no money or room for her, so she had no where to go. She just knew that she couldn’t go on living the way that she was. Her parents told her that they’d give her bus fare if she wanted to go back to her husband. It had been 21 years since she’d spoken to him, but she was able to track down a phone number, and called him. She asked if she could come back and live with him, and he told her that he’d never stopped loving her. As she talked to me, the pain and stress in her voice and her whole body started to soften. She realized that no one had ever treated her as well as her husband. He told her that he didn’t look the same anymore, and she assured him that she didn’t, either. But, they were excited about getting back together, and he would have a chance to meet his daughter who was now 25, and had very little memory of him.
Late that afternoon as the prairie sun was starting to set, the bus stopped at a small bus
station in the middle of nowhere. Sherry got up and nervously tugged on the small travel bag she’d wedged into the overhead luggage rack. She was traveling light. There was no
attempt to put on her best face, or check her hair in the mirror. She was plainly dressed, in
old blue jeans and a simple shirt-top, with plain brown shoes. We could sense her
uncertainty, as she stepped down from the bus. There to greet her was a short, red-haired
man, gone a little wide in the body over the years. His blue jeans and plaid shirt
complemented hers, and he fidgeted, waiting to see how she would respond. They met right outside our window, and you could see a moment of hesitation and uncertainty in their eyes. Would the other person be disappointed? Would they regret agreeing to come back together? It was a fleeting moment, and then she dove into his outstretched arms, and the smiles on their faces were beatific. What an honor for us to witness such joy! We looked over at each other, our grins matching those of the couple standing outside our window. Even though the bus door had closed and we couldn’t hear anything that they
were saying, we could see the excitement in their eyes and the way that they touched each
other and you could see that they were both talking a mile a minute. They had a lot of
catching up to do.