C is for cookie (because my cookie jar is currently empty and I feel pressured to fill it).
C is for correction (in a moment of repentance for bad behavior).
C is for cranky (as a mother of teenagers, this is self-explanatory).
But tonight, after responding to a Facebook message from a dear friend, I bumbled across MY “C.”
|photo by Quiplash!||via PhotoRee|
In these days of abject folly and generally humiliating behavior by the representatives of our most esteemed cultural institutions, of human fallibility in everything from parenting to predicting the future, of the ease with which (and joy we take) from judging and condemning one another in everything from singing ability to fashion sense, the “C” we are missing is compassion.
Oh, it’s easy to have compassion on the people whose lives and livelihoods were sucked up into one of this year’s dreadful tornadoes. It’s easy to have compassion for the victims of the horrific tsunami in Japan, suffering the aftermath of loss, devastation, and radioactive contamination. It’s easy to feel compassion for the women and children trapped in the war-ravaged Middle East.
But what about the old guy who failed to activate his turn signal, forcing you to slam on the brakes and narrowly avoid an accident on the way home from work?
Or the haggard Hispanic mother with the screaming toddler, whining child, and fussy infant in front of you in the check-out at Wal-Mart?
Or the pierced, tattooed, leather-clad teenager and his eclectic assortment of odd-looking compatriots, smoking cigarettes outside the fast food drive-through you patronized for supper?
Or the narrow-minded religious zealot waving an inflammatory (and blatantly false) placard on the sidewalk?
As easy as it is to feel your heart soften and stir when you see the pictures of third-world orphans in need of sponsors, or the latest heart-wrenching ad campaign of dogs and cats on their way to the gas chambers in America’s overcrowded pounds, it’s equally easy to judge and condemn the humans around us. And then to reject them.
Why? Because while we tend to feel that dogs and cats and third-world orphans are merely hapless victims of circumstance. We also tend to believe the humans around us ought to do better, choose better … that we ought to be responsible for our own mistakes.
To a degree, that’s true.
And yet, none of us knows what it means to stand in another person’s shoes. No matter how hard we try, we can’t walk through every experience with them, making objective decisions in the light of what WE know to be true.
For example: Just over a century ago, doctors were ignorant to cross-contamination by germs in their surgical practices. As a result, women died of puerperal fever by the thousands. Those doctors were acting on the knowledge they had — knowledge which was, admittedly — woefully inadequate.
By the same token, who are we to believe we know all, see all, understand all, about the circumstances and situations of the people we encounter from day to day? Quite simply, we don’t.
Compassion, by definition, involves such an intense response of feeling to the woes of another that we are compelled to act, compelled to DO something. Compassion hurts.
|photo by vvonstruen||via PhotoRee|
Unfortunately, what we are most commonly compelled to do is to pass judgment. Let’s face it… it’s easier to judge, condemn, and reject than it is to endure the pain of compassion.
Jesus, on the other hand, was frequently “moved with compassion.” Provoked by the conditions of the people He encountered, compassion generated a response, and release, of supernatural power in Him.
14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. Matt 14:14 NKJV
33 They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” 34 So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. Matt 20:33-34 NKJV
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. Mark 1:41-43 NKJV
13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Luke 7:13-15 NKJV
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:33-37 NKJV
There are our directions… Go and do likewise. So should it be with ALL His followers. May we stop resisting and start yielding to the pull of compassion, allowing the Lord Himself to stretch forth His hand through us to heal, to provide, to restore, to minister.
Compassion… had any lately? If you’ve been tempted to judge, the answer is probably ‘yes.’ Choose compassion, prayer, mercy, giving, and love instead.
From A 2 Z 4 U and me is a meme created by Patty Wysong. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this meme… you’ll be surprised how much you can gain, one letter at a time!