There have been times when I’ve felt I was playing a game of pretending to be a good person, for instance when I was volunteering for relief work after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Part of me sincerely wanted to help and make a difference, but I also knew it was what I should want to do, and I was happy to be seen as someone who wanted to help.
At the time, I threw my heart and soul into relief work. It was nice to feel like I was serving. It was even nicer to be recognized for it. Soon I began questioning why other people weren’t doing as much as I, and I found myself looking down on others. It didn’t take too long before things started to unravel.
The breaking point came one morning when, ironically, I overslept. I was meant to be a driver in a convoy that was leaving for Tohoku at 6 am, but my alarm failed, and I was awakened by a phone call at 6:15. I jumped out of bed, scrambled around to get ready as fast as possible, wondering how I could have let this happen. My girlfriend was planning on coming along as well, but I was in such a rush that I didn’t wait for her.
As I drove off, I had a sneaky suspicion that something wasn’t right, but I also had a raging headache and a carload of eager volunteers talking nonstop, so I brushed it off. An hour down the road, however, I received a series of irate SMSs from my girlfriend ending with “I hate you.”
I had a five-hour drive to think about it, and the more I did, the more I too hated myself. Over the previous months, I had “left behind” other people too, because they couldn’t keep up, or because I wanted to be all by myself out front.
I called my girlfriend that night and asked for her forgiveness, and then I spent some time talking to Jesus, asking for His forgiveness too. I like to think that a few things changed that day. Not so much in what I did, but in the way I did it. I still have a lot of goals, but I want to accomplish them the way Jesus would, lovingly and kindly. That’s the only way that what I build will last and mean something.