I saw this message on the side of a truck as I was driving the other day. I’m not sure what company or organization it was advertising, but I certainly appreciated the message. Last week I shared with you that compassion is what the true spirit of Christmas is all about, and I’ve shared about compassion before, but it is worthy of repeating.
Compassion is “regarded as a fundamental part of human love, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism.” (wikipedia.com) It is empathy for the suffering of others and having a desire to help.
In some circumstances it may be easy to share compassion. When someone loses a loved one ~ we call, give hugs, bring meals, attend events that celebrate the lives people had and listen to those who are grieving. We grieve right along with them. We feel sad for those who experience great challenges, are bullied, or are victims of terrible acts. It seems natural to be compassionate.
What may not feel natural and may be more of a challenge is offering compassion to individuals who are different from us, perhaps do unhealthy things or even commit terrible acts. Not to condone horrific acts, but even people who do horrendous things need someone to pay attention and understand them. People who bully, steal, dress dark, or any other behavior or lifestyle that may be uncomfortable to relate to, frustrating or hard to understand, need love and compassion as much as the next person. A friend on facebook presented a challenge, he encouraged people to have a three minute conversation with a local schizophrenic, alcoholic, mentally handicapped or PTSD neighbor (only suggestions of lives that we may not understand so much). “Can you afford three minutes to raise the level of human decency?” he posted. We all have challenges, and we all have the desire to be treated like a human, to be understood by someone.
In the November edition of Readers Digest, Dr. Phil shared a story of the compassion of his high school football coach. Dr. Phil was a poor kid, didn’t have money for lunch, missed a lot of school, moved a lot and never felt like he fit in anywhere. His coach noticed him and cared about him. Today Dr. Phil states, “I always hold in high esteem people who are kind when they don’t have to be, when there’s nothing in it for them.” The compassion shown to him during those years changed the direction of his life.
The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized.
Page 2 of 2 - Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands. ~H. Stainback
Be that someone who shares compassion even when it’s difficult. Take a few minutes to share kindness and understanding; to step into the world of someone else’s challenges. You may just change someone’s life and it will surely change you!