I ran away from a friend in need
The day was 23rd December, and it was my worst Christmas.
In the morning, something inside my heart tells me not to take my car today. So, I went to my office by taxi and came back home walking. I have two reasons for this. First, being the Christmas season, the traffic would be very heavy. I did not want to get stuck in a traffic jam on this day. Second, I wanted to walk and see the varied, creative, and beautiful Christmas decorations along the way and also enjoy the Christmas mood in my city.
After leaving the office, I walked through the bye lanes to enjoy the cooling breeze of the winter evening. I walked until I reached the shopping center, the hub of Christmas shopping and festivities. I walked leisurely to enjoy Christmas, but people were busy Christmas shopping.
While I was walking, suddenly I heard someone calling my name, "Kit, Kit", from somewhere. I knew the voice and could glimpse the person with shaggy hairs and not-so-clean clothes from a little distance. At this very moment, despite the Christmas mood and call it what you will but I'll call it the devil, entered my heart. I avoided this man. I walked faster and with the crowds, it was easy to lose and miss him.
The sun had already set and Christmas lights shone from everywhere. As darkness fell, I walked alone and thought why I avoided this man. It is difficult to explain, but let me try.
A lady with her family rented a house and stayed in our village where I grew up. In course of time, I became friends with them. Gradually, I came to know their younger sister and her husband, whom I will call Lazar (not his actual name).
Lazar and his wife stayed in the city, but sometimes they used to come and stayed with this family in our village. Time went by and the lady who stayed in our village moved away. I lost touch with them.
A few years later, I met Lazar at the shopping center. He was no longer the Lazar I once knew, with only skin and bones with ragged clothes. He was quite happy on seeing me. Then, he told me his problems. Both his parents died. And his dear loving wife, who was suffering from cancer, also died. Why God took away all his loved ones? He asked. The burden was beyond his capacity to bear. To cure his heartbreak, loneliness, and depression, he started drinking.
He no longer wanted to live, and he neglected himself and also his job. In course of time, he lost his job and everything he had. So he started borrowing and begging from friends. Looking at him, I felt pity for him and I gave him some money. He thanked me profusely.
Every time I met him, I helped him and I lost count of how many times I have given him money. Deep in my mind, I was getting a little tired of hearing his excuses for money. I blamed him for his conditions. Yes, it's so easy to judge and blame others.
In my weakness as a human being, I could not go deep into his problems. I could not empathize and feel his pain. Having a good with many blessings, but I could not be a blessing to others. I had a good job, a house of my own, and a wonderful family. So, how could I understand what Lazar went through?
Then another thought also came to me. I used to give him money every time I met him. This time, being Christmas, let others also give him. I have so many things to buy and give to my relatives, friends and especially my family. I would like to enjoy Christmas the way I wanted instead of serving others in need.
That night I could not sleep. I was so bitter about my hasty decision to avoid Lazar. Thoughts of that man plagued me the whole night. What happened to him now? Was he hungry? Did he get any food to eat? Where will he spend the night?
But one thing I am sure of was that he might not have a warm Christmas in his heart and his home. I did not even know if he has any place he can call home. At least he could have enjoyed this Christmas, IF and I know IF I had done something for him.
It excited Lazar when he saw me and was expecting something from me during this Christmas season. But I ran away and hid from him. Instead of being a blessing for those who are in need, I ran away like a coward, and that too during a time of serving and giving. I could not explain my feelings inside - it was a veritable nightmare.
On the 24th morning, I went to church for Christmas eve caroling with my children. I wanted to teach my children the true meaning of Christmas, but I found I did the opposite of what Jesus Christ taught.
Even when I was inside the church, I was bitter and angry with myself. All around, people were content, but deep inside I was miserable because of what I had done. After the caroling, I dropped my children home and went to the city shopping center.
I reached there in the afternoon. On reaching there, I walked along the busy streets hoping to meet Lazar. I do not remember how many times I walked around the place. I wanted to meet him, asked for his forgiveness, and give him money so that he could buy the things he needed.
I spent the whole evening walking around the place. Yesterday I saw people with Christmas mood but today I could see nothing important. I was hungry, but I could not eat because my mind was with Lazar. My heart was sad and troubled by the thought of Lazar.
I prayed a silent prayer to enable me to meet Lazar but in vain. I would have gone to his house searching for him, but probably he did not have a house to stay. When it was too late in the night, I knew I could no longer meet Lazar. In despair, I returned home. Nobody knew the struggle I fought inside my heart.
On 25th December, I went to church with my family, but I was heartbroken. Nobody saw the tears I shed inside my heart. The Christmas family dinner was tasteless to me. It was here that I realized that money and material things of this world meant nothing compared with the bitterness I felt inside my heart. This was my worst Christmas.
After this incident, I tried to find out more about Lazar. I went to meet some people who might know him. After months of making inquiries, I was told that Lazar died. How and when he died, nobody knows. The only information I got was that he does not have any surviving relatives.
Now that I know Lazar died, I could no longer meet him in this world. I could no longer ask forgiveness from him. We do not know where they buried him. I just prayed that he went to Heaven. I satisfy myself with the thought that when I leave this world, I will reach Heaven, and once there, I will first go searching for Lazar and ask for forgiveness from him.
But here on this earth and in this life, I have learned my lessons. The bitterness of living only for myself and the joy of giving and serving others.
Somebody wrote this poem, please read it!
Is anybody happy because you passed his way?
Can you say tonight, in passing with the day that slipped so fast,
That you helped a single person, of the many that you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said,
}Does one whose hopes were fading,
Now with courage look ahead?
Did you waste the day or lose it?
Was it well or poorly spent?
Acts of love and kindness never die,
But in the lives of others multiply.