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