Thursday, February 19, 2015

One of 1,000 Voices Speaking for Compassion

I have been trying to write this post for a month now.

I was going for something deep.

Something super thoughtful that would leave everyone ugly-crying.

In the end I realized two things.

1. I am not a deep, ugly-cry-inducing kind of thinker, let alone writer.

2. This is not a deep, complicated topic. It's quite simple really.

In theory.

In practice, it is a bit (and a lot!) more difficult, but something we are all called to be.

Compassionate.

It is simple when a child breaks a leg playing in a soccer game.

All his friends carry things for him and parents go out of their way to make his life easier.

It is simple when we hear about a man who passed away, leaving a young wife and children. Everyone jumps on board to help in any way possible. We all feel horribly sorry for the family and want to do something to help ease the suffering.

These are natural feelings. Of course we want to help.

It isn't so cut and dry when we see a guy speeding and cutting cars off as he goes.

It's hard when we see a parent lose her temper in the middle of the store.

It is downright practically impossible when we hear of a teenager who went into a school with a gun, intent on injuring or killing as many people as possible.

But we're supposed to.

We are called to have compassion for all people, simply because they are people.

Compassion doesn't mean we condone the behavior.

Compassion doesn't mean we let it continue.

But it does mean we try to put ourselves in that person's shoes.

It does mean we try to imagine what had to happen in that person's life to bring about that behavior.

It does mean we humble ourselves to see things differently from the way we would based on our own lives and experiences.

It does mean we try to figure out a way to help.

Even if the only thing we can do is pray.

Today, more than 1,000 bloggers are writing about compassion.

It started with two bloggers and an idea to dedicate one day to it.  They asked their friends to join in.  It only took a couple of weeks for 1,000 people to say Yes.  Yes, I want to add my voice to help make this world a better, more compassionate place.

The writing is done.

The posts are posted.

Now it's time to really dig in and do the hard work.

We aren't flying blind here. Jesus came to Earth to show us how to show compassion. When he came across thieves and adulterers, he didn't shun them. He didn't give them dirty looks. He spoke with them. He didn't condone their behaviors, but he did sit down to share meals with them. He gave us the perfect example of what we are to strive to be and do.

It is time to actually show compassion, even and especially when it is the most difficult.

There are so many ways and places to do it.

As I tell my children on a regular basis (usually after I break up a fight), in every situation, we have a choice to make the situation better or to make it worse.

Compassion is how we make a situation better.

Who knows why that mom is at the end of her rope or why her child is throwing a tantrum on the floor? I have a choice. Will I make the situation better or worse? A dirty look certainly won't. Muttering about bad parenting most certainly won't. A kind word of solidarity as I walk by could give that mom renewed energy to calmly deal with the situation.

When someone says something unkind to me or about me or writes a negative comment on a post of mine, I have a choice. I can get offended and angry, replying in kind, or I can take a step back. I can try to see her point of view and her intent. Who knows why she did such a thing? Perhaps something happened in her past and something I said triggered strong feelings. Perhaps she was having a really bad day and spoke in a way she normally wouldn't have. Or she isn't the nicest of people on a regular basis and enjoys irritating people. I have no idea, but I can choose to make the situation better. I can either reply kindly or not reply at all.

When someone cuts me off in traffic, who knows why he did it? He could have been thinking of his sick child and didn't realize where he was. My car could have been in his blind spot, and he just didn't see me. He could be a terrible driver who doesn't care about other people on the road. It doesn't matter. I have a choice. Am I going to get angry and honk my horn and yell at him, or am I going to let it go, giving him the benefit of the doubt? Only one answer is compassionate. Only one response makes the situation better.

Besides the everyday, small ways we can show compassion, there are plenty of ways to go all out and make a commitment to be compassionate to the most in need of it.

Homeless shelters.

Food banks.

Prisons.

Crisis pregnancy centers.

Inner-city schools.

Nursing homes.

Hospitals.

There are endless places which are in dire need of volunteers.

Places that have more people who need help than people to do the helping.

To share a meal.

To provide an ear.

To show some kindness.

Without judgement or shame.

See?

Simple.

In theory.

What are we going to do now that we have written and read?

How are we going to be the compassionate people God called us to be?

I can't wait to see.

If you would like to join in with the 1000 Voices for Compassion, we'd love to have you.

There is a Facebook group.  Folks who tweet can use #1000Speak.  Link a post through one of several hosts, including Lizzi and Yvonne, the two bloggers who started this whole thing in the first place.

Have a lovely day!

46 comments:

  1. Simply beautiful....absolutely right on with it all- right down to the driver that cut you off.. :)

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  2. Beautiful! I am writing my post right now, and took a break to read yours.

    It's hard to believe you would ever get a negative comment on your blog, but not hard to believe that you would react compassionately.

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    1. Thank you! I just read yours. Inspiring as usual!

      I've only gotten one, and it wasn't horribly mean. I just see so many on other posts on FB or blogs, and I imagine it's only a matter of time.

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  3. This turned out just perfect! I think my favorite part is how you tell your kids in every situation, you can either choose to make the situation better or worse. Such a simple lesson in compassion!

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    1. Why thank you! Couldn't have done it without you.

      It really is that simple. They hate it when I say that. :)

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  4. **How are we going to be the compassionate people God called us to be?**

    We need to listen to HIS voice!!! x

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  5. What a wonderful way to put it: "Compassion is how we make things better." I don't think I've ever heard it explained that way but it is a way everyone can understand and a simple way for each of us to run a check on ourselves. We can ask ourselves "How can I make this better?" or "Am I making it better?" Great post!

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    1. My brain works on the level of a child most of the time, trying to make things as simple as possible. Things really aren't as complicated as we make them out to be so much of the time.

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  6. Yes, it truly is a simple act, gesture or thought that can make a difference!

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  7. This is great!! Wonderful thoughts to ponder. I am trying to do better about this this year, namely because I want to raise my baby to be a compassionate adult. I also like what you tell your kids about making the situation better or worse. I need to keep this post close by for reference in future parenting moments!

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    1. Funny how having kids makes us all want to be better people and better examples... :)

      I'm glad you found the post useful.

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  8. OK, maybe I didn't ugly-cry, but this is still deep. Simple but deep. I kind of wrote about this (in a specific circumstance), and as I did my mind wandered on to those who commit even more terribly acts: pedophilia or mass murder. In theory, we must have compassion for these people, too. But I'm not sure I have it in me. Do you?

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    1. Funny you asked that. In an earlier draft I had a bunch more about being compassionate towards people who have done horrible things.

      Do I?

      When the towers went down, I went to church, sat in the pew, and prayed for the people who had done it and the people who had trained them.

      I know registered sex offenders. I don't let them near my kids, but I say hello. I'll smile and be pleasant. I pray for them. I don't condone what they've done, and I don't give them the opportunity to repeat the offense, but I try my very best to show them some kindness.

      I know registered sex offenders. I don't let my kids near them, but I say hello. I smile. I don't condone what they've done. I don't give them the chance to repeat the offense, but I do my best to show them some kindness.

      I don't always do this. I'm far from perfect. It is especially hard when I know a person is continuing the behavior, such as cheating on or abusing his wife. I find it terribly difficult to be anything but cold to those people.

      Simple, but so difficult sometimes.

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    2. Well, I don't know how that paragraph got put in there twice! Oops!

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  9. "Compassion is how we make things better" is just perfect. The truth is that all kinds of situations happen in life and some fill us with anger or pain. We cannot go back and change the fact that it happened, but compassion is how we make things better.

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    1. And really, holding onto anger or pain only makes us feel bad. It doesn't make anyone feel better, including ourselves.

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  10. Very well done Christine, very well done.

    Have a fabulous day filled with compassion. ☺

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    1. Thank you!

      Our neighbor came and plowed our driveway for us without being asked. On his birthday. He felt bad for us, knowing our van has some trouble getting in and out of the snow-covered drive. Compassion abounds!

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  11. Thank you Christine for your post. Beautiful in it's simplicity. You are so right! Compassion isn't always easy but it is necessary. Necessary if we want to be a part of making life better. I totally agree with you. So often it takes stepping back to consider what another might be going through, what might have just happened in their life. Thanks for the reminder to give people a second chance:)

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    1. When someone does something that could irritate me, I make up a logical excuse for the behavior. It helps me be more compassionate for the person, whether I'm right or not. There's always the chance that guy was on his way to the hospital before his wife gave birth to their baby! :)

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  12. I hope you didn't get a negative comment. I'm afraid I came over rather tunnel-vision-y at the thought that you might, and the tunnel had a whole load of ire at the end of it, rather than any kind of compassion.

    Your question is beautifully simple though - do I want to make the situation better or worse.

    I still think you could write a manual for life.

    You're amazing and wonderful (and deep) and a pleasure and an honour to be friends with.

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    1. I've only gotten one, and it wasn't really mean. No need to get your hackles up. :) (Is that even the saying?)

      You are so good for my ego. Or bad. Depending on how one looks at it. :)

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  13. This completely set out what you wanted it to do because I have the tears. They're not especially ugly, because I'm smiling and hopeful and sitting near my little boy who should be in bed but claimed to be "hungry hungry" and is now eating veggie fries. After reading some posts today, I can't help but pray for all of the little kids who are for real "hungry hungry" and didn't eat a proper meal just a couple of hours ago. About the moms who didn't eat at all tonight so that her babies could. Sigh. I so want this to continue. To go forward. To keep on.
    And I hope you didn't get a nasty comment! I got too many recently and realize that maybe they were right.... that they had their reasons. I think this post is 100% what #1000Speak is supposed to be. Is. Will be. Here's to remembering and DOING. xxoo

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    1. I saw those comments you received. I was cringing for you. I imagine it was quite difficult to have compassion for those people. I have only had one, and it wasn't too mean.

      I pray that people get more involved in helping others. I pray this 1000speak initiative got people jazzed to do something. So many people could use it.

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  14. Oh Christine, this post touched me to my core.. In my mind all I kept saying was, yes, yes, yes!!! So many things I could say about this post, other than, I just truly love it.. What a wonderful mirror you've held up.. Much like the Holy Spirit, a gentle reminder.. Thank you for this..

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    1. Oh, thank you for telling me this. Writing serious posts isn't my normal thing, so I get a little nervous about it. I'm glad it had an impact.

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  15. Awesome post - definitely one of my favorites I've read so far (and I've read A LOT). I am also really looking forward to seeing where this movement takes us, what it compels each of us to do. Thank you for such a beautiful reminder that ALL people are deserving of our compassion, and that we don't know what leads anyone to the point they are at in life.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Jen. I"m glad you liked it. I pray people take this to heart and action and get out there to help people. All people. Because it helps not just the person receiving it, but the person doing the helping, too.

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  16. I read this yesterday but my silly phone wouldnt let me comment... Really well written.. so important is the ability to make a choice to do the right thing...you got that across perfectly.

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    1. I read this 2 days ago, but my kids wouldn't let me comment. :)

      Thank you!

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  17. As I make my way through the posts - I have no idea how many i've read so far, I do keep asking myself, "What are we going to do now that we have written and read?" We are building a beautiful platform to stand on though - a foundation of support. I love it. Love the stories from around the world.

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    1. I have really enjoyed seeing the wide variety of ways people wrote about this one word. It hit people differently, for sure. Now, I hope people jump in and start doing more than writing and reading.

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  18. I love love love that you went with Christ's call to be compassionate. Love the sinner; hate the sin. It's really about that, isn't it? And that is sometimes hard to do - damn hard. I think Ivy said it best - how do we do it? We listen to the call we're being given. Kenya's question is valid - now what? Same answer. Heed the call and take that small action, make that one simple but powerful choice.
    Love. That's all.

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    1. It can be so very hard. I actually have a harder time being compassionate towards people in my extended family. When I know the details of a person's circumstances, it is really hard.

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  19. Yes, this post is beautifully simple and inspiring at the same time. I choose compassion!

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  20. I think this post turned out beautifully, Christine. It's from the heart, and it is the truth. Compassion is how we make the situation better - and that is something everyone can do.

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    1. Thank you, Dana. Sometimes it's hard, but everyone can do it. Starting out small usually works. :)

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  21. This was beautiful!!!
    compassion is slipping the homeless guy (who was just on a cell phone) a buck. What he chooses to do with it is his business, but what I choose to do is MY God's calling to help the helpless. So every Sunday we help the helpless person on the corner by our church and tell my children that we can only be responsible for ourselves and how we treat him. I was blessed when once I did not have any cash and the man-child pulled out his wallet and pulled 2 bucks out for the guy. That is what parenting is for! Teaching compassion
    thanks for the inspiration

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    1. Thank you!

      We have such similar ideas. I agree completely. We are only accountable for our actions, not other people's. We have to be prudent and safe, but we must answer God's call. Clearly your kids are learning these lessons!

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  22. I love this. "Be kind an compassionate" is a command for us Christians, and that means not judging but acting out of love. This was a beautiful post.

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    1. Thank you. It is all about love. The day's reading the other day was the passage about feeding and clothing Jesus. It is exactly what we have to do. We must remember that Jesus is in every single person. How will we treat Him?

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  23. Well done, girl. Being kind IS a simple thing, but sarcasm and drama and selfishness seem to rule the day. I love what you tell your kids...our response DOES make the difference. And we have the power to chose in every situation how we will help or hurt. If we only had the courage to daily choose the good.

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Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you're thinking!