02 October 2011

Compassion

Jeff Goins wrote a brilliant piece on the cost of compassion. I invite you to join the conversation.    http://goinswriter.com/cost-of-compassion/

For three years I had a position at church where I served people on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis that had needs. It was rewarding and heart-wrenching. I had days when I cried and was down on my knees, and days I rejoiced for the progress they made. Then two years into this service came a day when my mother’s cancer, my step-father’s cancer, my step-mother’s death and my oldest son leaving for a two year mission all came crashing in at once and I had to reach out to those I had been helping and supporting for their strength. Often the one serving is the one who in the end is raised up. I spent another year in this position. Now I’m serving the people in my church (and by extension the larger community) in another capacity. My mother and step-father are better. My son is thriving on his mission in Brazil and will be home in February. 

Most often when people think about extending compassion they think of big things- serving weekly in a shelter or going to a foreign country and working with people in dire straits, but for most people this is not possible. What is possible is extending compassion on a daily basis and in seemingly small ways. Taking a few moments to visit with an elderly neighbor, driving the speed limit and being courteous to the others on the road, turning off the music, or other distraction, and talking with, not to, your child, bringing a meal to a friend- just because. You never know the ripple effect these ‘small’ acts of compassion can have in a life, to a family, to a community. 

I would encourage you though to make the conscience choice to structure your life and set the goal to serve deeper and harder. It may mean working less, or giving up a favorite hobby, or not having a vacation, or forgoing a conference, or restructuring retirement so you have the time and money to be in the difficult places.  

Please- share your thoughts and experiences with compassion. Compassion you've been able to extend or compassion extended to you.