Word of the Week – Week 6

Our word of the week is Compassion. This word, or the idea of it, has come up several times in the last week in both things that I have been reading and music that I have been listening to so I decided I needed to share it with you.

According to Merriam Webster Compassion is a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Compassion is what makes us hug a friend who is grieving; compassion is what prompts us to take in that stray dog or cat or adopt a pet from an animal rescue; and it’s compassion that drives us to donate food, clothing or money to a food pantry or homeless shelter. It is responsible for many acts of kindness and love. Compassion seems a normal response when the “distress” is apparent, but what about when it’s not?

We, humans, tend to take things at face value and things, that may trigger a compassionate response if we had more information, might be met with anger or other such negative emotions.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

Example 1: How would you feel if you spoke to someone who was walking past you and they just kept on walking, never even acknowledging you? Would you think them rude? Feel slighted? Disrespected? Offended?

Now would you feel differently if you knew that I am deaf in my left ear and that I simply didn’t hear you? (Yep that person was me.)

Example 2: How would you feel if you were a cashier in a busy grocery store and you noticed a person standing in your line just shaking their head? Would you see someone who was impatient? Who was perhaps disgruntled because they had to wait or something else that occurred during their shopping experience? Would you feel defensive?

Now would you feel differently if you knew I (it’ me again) had a neurological condition that caused my head tremors? That my head shaking was incontrollable movements and at times I don’t even realize it is happening?

It is impossible for us to know all of the issues surrounding every situation. So what can we do? How can we offer compassion when we are not aware that it is warranted?

My best suggestion is to be slow to react to such situations. Ask questions even if in your own mind and if you are unable to gain more knowledge and understanding perhaps you can at least give the person/situation forbearance. I try to keep in mind that I have not walked in anyone else’s shoes.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29

17 thoughts on “Word of the Week – Week 6

  1. Wise words. The head tremors are something I recognize quite easily but never got to talk to anyone about this. I can only imagine how stiff your neck must be and all. Had no idea that sometimes you’re not even aware of it happening. Interesting.

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    1. I don’t have a problem talking about it but rarely am I asked. Oddly I usually don’t feel pain or stiffness in my neck. My legs, especially my thighs, do tend to get stiff if I sit in one position for long.

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  2. I liked what you said Ruth as it is all so true – we never know what is happening with anyone else unless we are close to that person and even then we are not in their head, not in their shoes. I hear the State of Michigan public service announcement on WWJ radio – you likely hear them too on the radio or TV. The woman who does the commercials/announcements talks about how COVID has put a lot of stress on people and to be kind to one another as life is not easy for any of us right now. So true. What is scary is the amount of pent-up anger and frustration by people these days … never is my life have I heard of so many drive-by shooting, barricaded gunmen, hostage-taking. Sad, sad and more sad. Your words are wise.

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  3. Both good examples Ruth. We usually don’t know what other people are coping with, so shouldn’t rush to make judgments. I once almost blew a job interview. When I got there, the CEO was sitting behind his desk and there was a pair of crutches behind him. He didn’t stand up to greet me or shake hands, but he was friendly. It was Feb and seeing the crutches there I assumed he must have been in a skiing accident or broken something etc, but I held my tongue and didn’t comment. Turned out he’d had polio as a child , and braces on both legs. He was also the best and the nicest boss I ever had.

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    1. Thanks K.C. One of the songs that we have listened to recently is Depeche Mode – Walking In My Shoes. It’s a reminder that we really don’t know how we would act if we were in that persons situation.

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  4. I always assume I will like people 100% of the time. Over 99% of the time, I’m right. There are some that take time and patience to understand, and they are often worth the effort. I liked the way you wrote about compassion and pray the Lord will always boost my supply of it.

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