The most profound thing about the subway is it’s unbelievable way of uniting New Yorkers of all shades, ages, and walks of life in travel. Regardless of your paygrade, neighborhood, heritage, or where you were the night before – you’re getting on the subway.
On my ride home last night, I heard the sound of people gasping. All of a sudden, people came crowding towards my side of the train and people look both embarrassed, shocked, and completely grossed out.
A man was vomiting on the train.
A man had vomited on a woman and her child on the train. And everyone was running from him – myself included.
I pretty much texted everyone I knew to inform them of the incident. After sending about seven to ten text messages, I look up to see the woman rubbing her pant leg, sitting her child down, and I begin chatting with her.
This woman looked over to me and asked:
“Did anyone show compassion on this man? It’s okay that I have a little vomit on me, but he must be sick. Did anyone do anything for him?”
I was impressed by this woman’s ability to look to the needs of others over her own.
Is it possible for me to be like her? Is it possible for me to be the one to provide compassion, or even think about providing compassion. Is there a way not to turn a person’s hurt into something about me?
I’ve been “vomited” on by people I love and don’t love yet. This unexpected, difficult, and disgusting hurt hits from weird angles and in places I didn’t expect it in. I think this come from a deep place of hurt. People are reacting and responding out of their own hurt, making it impossible to see what hurt might do to you.
There was absolutely no logic behind what this woman said that day. She had been attacked by vomit on a subway probably after a very long day of work. She probably didn’t ask for it. She probably didn’t see it coming.
Somehow she found a way to love without reason on someone who probably needed it more than she did. I find the more time I spend on earth, the easier it becomes to play my own version of a victim. The world piles up on me and I honestly sometimes can’t breathe. It makes me feel less like myself.
I am waiting for the day I can finally be the smaller person.
A couple weeks ago, it was hard for me to get up and be the bigger person in circumstances that felt way over my head. I was waiting for my justice, for someone to finally stand in the gap for me. I knew I was right, I knew God was on my side, and I thought somehow I would get the apology I was looking for.
The day I decide to be the smaller person is the day I have decided my calling, purpose, and ability to connect with others does not matter. That is the day I become less of myself. I watched myself become so uncomfortable with who I am that it was hard to even remember who I was.
I must always be the forgiving, soft hearted, and kind person who can bend and mold to the circumstances around me because that’s how I serve Him. That is the role God has given me. In fact, I think He honors it by showing me He loves me despite how unlike it it feels by the people around me.
I don’t bring these things up to make people feel sorry for me. I do bring it up because I am learning despite how others bring their hurt to me, it is worth it to show compassion to them – to see their suffering in their hurt and try to love aggressively over it.
I have had to do a lot of that this month. I’ve had to say sorry when I wasn’t actually wrong. I’ve had to say sorry more often than not to people I never expect to change. I’ve stayed silent in circumstances that were in just to protect the peace of my house, my partner, and my friendships.
I think it’s worth it to turn the world on the side of its head and show it relentless, kind, and confusing love. A love that doesn’t make sense – a love despite what the world might do, is there any way.
I am seeing even God can work through vomit. More importantly, I am seeing when I touch the vomit and cover it with love, God starts taking our hearts and giving us His. This is not an overnight process, I’ve had to touch His heart and finally see He was sovereign over the pain I’ve felt from the way people respond to me.
I’m learning love is at the center of becoming more of myself, despite of how big or small I feel.