This city breaks my heart a thousand ways to Sunday. It’s broken when I see little boys acting out a skit of the Good Samaritan, and knowing all too well what a beating looks like. And when a beautiful teenage girl asks me which brand of whitening cream I use, because society has taught her to despise the color of her own skin. And when people make long barefoot pilgrimages to the temple of the God of death carrying their sick child, so they can pray He will spare them. And when children tap on my car window, intentionally maimed to be more lucrative at begging. And when impoverished, painfully malnourished people give their last bit of food to a sacred cow for good Karma. And every morning when I hear my neighbor’s emotional prayers sung to a God with no ears. And when the sun begins to set and the homeless begin bedding down on sidewalks and street corners, frail old men, young mothers with small children, and everyone in between. How many times will I have to see the inside of a slum before it becomes normal?
I worry that it’s going to take away a piece of me. I worry about my heart being hardened. Because I don’t ever want to get used to this, but I worry there’s only so many times the same things break your heart before eventually it just gets hard.
I was riding in the car with two girls, one a native of Delhi and the other a foreigner like me. When we stopped at a red light we heard the all too familiar tapping and saw a little boy about six motioning for us to give him money. “Is it hard to drive with kids like that in the streets?” My foreign friend asked the native. “What kid?” was her only reply. She had been around tragedy her whole life, and so she simply stopped seeing it.
“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.” -John Steinbeck
In this vastly over-populated city, I don’t ever want to reach the point where I look at people and stop seeing human beings.I don’t ever want to reach the point where I look at needy people and all I see is their needs. I want to see the image of God in people. Even if they’re poor. Even if they’re ugly, or mean, or sick, or dirty, or different than me. I want to love them like God loves us; in spite of our brokenness. I want to be soft. I want to be naive. I want to be different than the cold, hard, survivalists this city breeds. I don’t ever want to withhold love from someone because I’m afraid of getting my heart broken. I don’t ever want to be afraid of becoming attached to someone or too involved in their life or their problems. I want to love people and not be afraid to getting my hands dirty.
I want to give, live, and thrive. I want to love people, and I want to never stop.
“How can you love ignorant, brutish people whom you don’t even know? Can anyone love filth and squalor? Or lice and rats? Who can love aching weariness and carry on working in spite of it? One cannot love these things. One can only love God, and through His Grace come to love His people.” -Sister Monica Jone, The Midwife by Jennifer Worth
It’s the Lord who gives me love. It’s the Lord who soften my heart to the breaking point with compassion. The things that break my heart are the very same things that break His. God holds my heart, and if he uses this city to break it, it’s only because He’s going to stitch it back together again into a better shape than before.