On our way home, we were sitting on a bench, waiting for a tram on Elizabeth street when we noticed this guy hobbling across the street to the adshell overhang. He was carrying a pair of crutches in one hand, a beer in the other, and both feet were in padded braces. He was scruffy and hunched over, wincing a little from the pain. But he looked used to it, and hobbled over to the railing and sank down to the sidewalk with a sigh of relief.
It was at this point that I did something I've never really done before: I stood up, walked over to him and asked if he wanted a proper seat.
It bothered me a little that he'd placed his priority on carrying the beer, not on getting safely from point A to point B. I mean, he could probably move more easily if he'd just open the can when he wasn't trying to walk around, but I suppose to each his own.
Anyway, he smiled and, in a rapid country Victorian accent that took me a touch too long to translate, said that no, he preferred sitting on the ground because it gave his feet a chance to rest. He pointed out that if he sat on the seat, the pressure would go on the bottom of his feet still and he was already in a bit of pain as it was. But thank you for the offer, that's very kind of you.
I smiled back, and upon completing my mental translation, said that I agreed, it looked like it might hurt a bit. Actually, I was thinking it looked downright painful, and that I couldn't handle that sort of thing, but he seemed good-natured about the whole set of circumstances. His tram came along at that point, and he said thanks again before grabbing his can of beer and crutches and hobbling onto the tram.
I bring this all up because the uncharacteristic altruism shocked me a bit and at first, I couldn't quite place where it had come from. Don't get me wrong, I'm about as compassionate as the next guy, I guess, but to be honest, I've never really shown that side of myself. I'm not sure why that is, maybe because I'm scared of talking to strangers; it's the introverted part of me.
I remember one day, about a week after we arrived, Liz wanted to go to some shopping center to buy ourselves some sandles, as the weather was very warm (especially for a pair of new yorkers just come from the dead of winter). However, neither Ruth nor Colin were around to drive us to Glen Waverly (a couple of suburbs over) and so we'd have to take public transport.
I was petrified. It took me a good two hours to pluck up the courage to grab my wallet and walk out the door to the wrong bus stop, then have Liz mention we should probably be on the other side. I was so nervous about the whole thing I nearly went straight back home. But guilt prevailed (I'd made it this far) and somehow managed to bluff my way to the mall and back. Now I use the trams, trains, and busses without a second thought, but that's how scared of everything I was when I got here.
On the tram travelling home tonight, I started trying to place how it came to be that I was now ok with talking to strangers at tram stops. I thought, maybe it's because I got used to it. But that couldn't be it. Urban Seed probably helped a bunch, as I have to often talk with people I've never met who look ... well, dodgy, really.
But then it hit me: this is what happens when you start getting to know God. God's power is transforming, intoxicating. It slowly works its way through every part of you, replacing each little piece with something better, something elemental, something more true and good. It's what enables an introvert like me to offer a guy a seat at a tram stop. There are times when it doesn't feel like you've made any progress towards imitating the God you've come to love so much. But then little signs come along, signs that you're not the person you used to be, signs that maybe, just maybe, you're moving forward, even if it is only creeping inch by inch, day by day.
And you realize that you couldn't - wouldn't - do it any other way.