Posts Tagged ‘compassion’


com·pas·sion [kuhm-pash-uhn]

1. a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

This morning, Jesus and I did some hammering with regard to my belief about compassion, and it was good stuff. He told me that I despise compassion because I know that it means, “with passion,” and it’s passion that has done much damage in my life. Passion caused men to abuse. Passion caused rage and lies. Everything that feels too big, too scary, too emotional, too angry, too loving — it all gets lumped together for me.

I’m using a workbook in counseling that talks about recovering passion as a form of repentance; that is, deciding to live, and therefore acknowledging and giving up the things I have allowed to keep me near emotional death. I don’t think I realized just how much emotional distance I hold with people in my life. I know that I feel things, after all. But I’m getting the picture that I don’t express it well or often, and that’s hard. Anyhow, here’s the product of quiet time reflection on com+passion.

Deadness is a cool disdain — choosing distance over risk of relationship,
assuming about and judging for others.
It is a sideways glance, disapproving and making known my displeasure.
It is the mean girl,
the intellectual snob,
the faultfinder,
the one without love.

It is being caught up, held hostage in, strangled by my own fear of rejection.
It is allowing my childhood beliefs to dictate my grown up behaviors.
It is utter foolishness.

It is extinguishing every spark of life in and around me, abortion in broad brush.
It is how I sometimes desire to break my daughter’s spirit,
to make clear to her that she’s not God’s gift to something,
when indeed she IS God’s gift.

It is despising the things that will bring joy and healing and wholeness
(those ethereal words – are they even real?)
to maintain a world that’s flat and grey, predictable and two-dimensional and safe.

And boring.

And painful.

Where the same decades-old nightmares chase me around the cardboard cityscapes night after night
and continue to provoke the same terror,
the terror of a child desperately clinging to her little world.

Compassion is fearful because it removes the luxury of denial,
the denial that says, “I don’t even want to really live.”
Oh, but I do. I do want to live.

I want
To stretch my legs in the warm autumn light
and hold my babies with loving abandon
and kiss my husband in the middle of the day, just because.

I want
To hold close the friend who is crushed by rejection, heart in hands, my own eyes misted over for her pain.
To love that I’ve accepted the tender invitation to hurt with her, no RSVP required.
To revel in the meaning of tears, this evidence of life,
the same salt water that cushions my children before birth dots the brows of hardworking men and comprises the seas.

Connection, that is passion.
Because it’s not a solo gig.
It’s an inside job.

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In counseling this week, the Not-So-Casual Observer said, “When I move toward you in compassion, you don’t want to receive it. You try, but you don’t want it.” Ouch.

We sat in silence for a few minutes while I thought about what she’d said. Then I looked her in the eye and said, “That really hurt.”

Which is, you know, huge for me.

She said, “I’m sorry.” Doesn’t make it hurt less, but then, that wasn’t really her plan.We moved on to my ideas of masculinity, and when I told her what I believe to be the definition of maleness (your average firefighter, for example), she said, “I think you like that in men because they don’t expose your hurt. They just let you be Hardass Heather.” (Ouch again! Can we feel me getting it on all sides?! Good thing I love this chick and think we work super well together!)

So I’ve been mulling over the meanings of those three words, and my reactions to each of them. I haven’t been able to come up with a working definition of each of them for myself. I’ve heard the old, “Mercy is not getting what you do deserve, grace is getting what you do not deserve,” but that just won’t serve for my purposes.

So mercy, grace, and compassion, I’m coming for you. However that looks!

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