Have you ever been disgusted with yourself over past actions? I certainly have. Below, is an excerpt from my up and coming book, Calming the Chaos: How to Live Beautifully in an Ugly World, where such a story that begins as a tale of human depravity, but ends with hope for us all.
“How could you even touch that man?”
“Oh, I probably know him,” Nancy laughed. “Maybe I’ve seen him at the Samaritan House.”
Leaving the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception after a wedding, my friends and I were walking to our cars when a man approached us. Toothless and unkempt, reeking of body odor, his face caked with dirt, his clothes grimy and torn, the old homeless man smiled. Then he reached his hand out—not for money—but to shake someone’s hand and feel the warmth of another person. My friend Nancy grabbed his hand, shook it compassionately, and gave him a wad of bills. Next, he came to me. As his hand reached out to me, I turned the other way.
How could I have done that? How could I?
The destitute man and I are equal—molded and patterned by God. On the other hand, the man’s cordiality and my cruelty showed two different hearts—one filled with love and the other filled with contempt. Nancy, my unchurched friend, had shown God’s love, mercy, and grace to the derelict, while I pulled my hand away. She knew more about loving a distasteful person than I. No wonder some people want nothing to do with Christians and think they are hypocritical.
Looking back on this incident years later, I still cringe at my behavior. I’ve learned to be grateful for the details of creation because they give us hope during the times our actions are contemptible. Furthermore, once I pondered the Scripture below, I understood the extent and quality of God’s care in the development of each human.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 emphasis added).
Notice the pronouns “us” and “our.” After reading the passage several times over, a thought came to me, They were all there—the process was more complicated than I originally thought. Did the Son and Spirit give the Father advice? Or did they all agree since they are so intimately held together as one being?
Fascinated, I read the passage several times over, focusing on the words “image” and “likeness.” All three had watched me rebel those many years ago. Their work in me had me to be different.
Now I try to look at all people as God’s created beings who’ve simply lost their way, just as I did. Choosing empathy and love over apathy and hate gives us the ability to view others as beautiful despite the ugliness of the world.