It's that time of year again: finals are here, ladies and gentlemen, and they're about to hit full force. You know what I'm talking about. They've been creeping up on us with that ever-pervasive stench for a couple of weeks now, leading to stressful rants, sleep deprivation, cranky moods, and this disgusting, overall lack of compassion and sensitivity to the outside world. The problem lies in the fact though that we're living in this bubble where it's appropriate and almost encouraged to "shut out the world" the minute stress is evident in our lives, but that's the most backward thinking I've ever heard.
We're not suffering from sleep deprivation or stress overload- we are suffering from selfish lifestyles, devoid of genuine kindness.
I'll be the first one to raise my hand and confess that I'm prone to running away when my life is on overload. Literally. I run away. I escape to anywhere filled with silence or some semblance of peace, and rarely look back. While I don't see any problem with that occasionally, my heart is rarely in the right place when I do go on my "disappearing adventures", because suddenly the world becomes about myself. My problems, my fears, my stress, my this, my that. And that's where I've been so wrong... that's where we're all wrong.
Compassion has taken the backseat in our lives, creating this awful self-centerdness that hides itself behind the pathetic label of "busyness". The first thing we often defend in our lives outside of family and friends is our schedules- how much we have to do, how filled our day is, etc. Ask someone for something, it can be anything regardless of importance, and the general excuse often has something to do with "being too busy". However, I've learned that you make time for the things that are most important to you. You only have 15 minutes before class? Somehow you'll make time to grab a bagel, check your facebook, respond to that text, check your e-mail.Yet why is it so much harder to serve a friend in need when we only have those spare 15 minutes?
Or how about this- you know the classic, "Oh my gosh, if you need ANYTHING please let me know!!" phrase? I want to ask you, how often do you follow through? I've been guilty of this. It's incredibly easy for us to make these empty promises of supporting one another, but we lack the genuine heart in following through. It makes sense- we truly feel concern for the person in the moment and truly want to help, but lack the direction for how/when/where to serve them. Let me tell you something though- that person in need probably isn't going to verbally ask you for help. They will, however, plead for your help with their actions or attitude. We have to become better about looking for how and where to serve instead of expecting it to magically be made known to us. We'll say, "I wish you had told me!" And somewhere deep down they've thought, "I was trying to... you weren't listening." We as Christians and human beings, need to start listening not only with our ears, but with our eyes, our intuition, our hearts. Open your eyes to what's going on in the world around you. Look up from your sorrow, pain, stress, whatever you're going through, and understand that God created a world bigger than our own lives. If he conquered death, He can conquer our problems. We're missing the boat by thinking this world is only about us. He wouldn't have created us simply to co-habitate with each other. That would have been a complete waste of time. I believe He created us to first love Him, then love and serve one another selflessly.
As the school year winds down, let's not lose sight of why we're here. Yes, we need to be diligent to school and our commitments, but that doesn't excuse living life without kindness and compassion. Open your eyes...be kind... listen. Find that person this week who truly and deeply needs love or encouragement. Devote time to actually listening to someone vent. Set aside time in the Word for God to fill you up, and ask for patience this week. I'll be asking for plentiful amounts of it, that's for sure. Finals and stress in general shouldn't be our reason for shutting the world out or failing in our friendships. That would be giving them too much stock. Let's instead put our stock in the LORD, and constantly remember that His patience, kindness, strength, and majesty is bigger than our problems. He was faithful before, He'll be faithful again.
"Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."