Sometimes I can easily focus so much in myself and my own problems and inadequacies that I forget there are others who have life even more difficult than me. I read a quote from Maslow that says, “Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.” I wonder why we think that what makes a family is going to Sunday church when in reality what makes a family is not what we do, but who we are as people with the kinship and connection towards others. For the last days I have been able to leave my isolated cave and move into the wilderness of the lives of the people I know. I have been listening to their stories, give a helping hand, cry with them, loose hope and get it back, wonder about future and even life itself, act like little children with new toys, dance salsa, or even play rummikub until 2:00 in the morning knowing that I will have to wake up early to go to church.
But the greatest teaching about sympathy came from three good friends and students at Tennessee Technological University; you see for the last 2 or 3 years I have gone through very emotional journey and once in a while I get into times were my soul gets overwhelmed and I ended up in a stage of self-pity and dive into a very profound depression. I did not want to see anybody or do anything, I just wanted to be at my home feeling miserable about my “supposedly” very complicated and unworthy life. I was there swimming in the sea of tears when suddenly a loud noise transported me back into reality, somebody knocked at the door. -”who could be?”, I said to myself, “I have never received a visit from church people, some I will say, not even know where I live”. I dressed up and went to the door to find out there were three students that came to kidnap me and rescue me from my misery. They simple said: “we came three people, but we will leave four”. So in a defensive way because they have attacked my own privacy and my right to feel down I asked them why do they came?. Again they just answered me,”because that is what friends are for. We will not leave this place unless you come with us, if you do not want to go, then we will stay with you.” Sympathy, “the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another “ (Merreiam-Webstern dictionary).
Let me share this, experiencing God is not all about activities, programs and Sunday services or masses; it is truly about these little events that happen during the rest of the week, when we realize we do not have our lives in control and we need others to help us. God can not be real if we just create a space where we come and “worship” every week, but we can not cry, laugh, get upset, discouraged, depressed, homesick, with the people around us. How can we sing hymns if we can not accept the one who has different lifestyle? How can we be a family without the kinship and the connection?
There is more in life than my own selfish life,
There is more in life than Sunday services,
There is more of God out there, that what is inside…
The moment these three people reached out to me, they touched my heart and kinship and connection was born. This is the meaning of Christ’s words when he said, love God,but also love others.