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