Friday, February 20, 2015

My Journey in Compassion...

Wikipedia's definition of compassion is as follows;

Compassion is the emotion that one feels in response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help.[1][2]
Compassion is really the act of going out of your way to help physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts or pains of another. Compassion is often regarded as having an emotional aspect to it, though when based on cerebral notions such as fairness, justice and interdependence, it may be considered rational in nature and its application understood as an activity based on sound judgment. There is also an aspect of compassion which regards a quantitative dimension, such that individual's compassion is often given a property of "depth," "vigour," or "passion." The etymology of "compassion" is Latin, meaning "co-suffering." More involved than simple empathy, compassion commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering.[2]
Compassion is often, though not inevitably, the key component in what manifests in the social context as altruism.[citation needed] In ethical terms, the expressions down the ages of the so-called Golden Rule often embodies by implication the principle of compassion: Do to others what you would have them do to you


Compassion for me has been a part of my daily life as long as I can remember.  I was raised in a social service youth organization that bespoke compassion as one of it's greatest teachings. My mother and grandmother were very caring, compassionate people. We were always going to visit the sick in hospitals and nursing homes, just to bring them a smile, a laugh, a card, some human touch to make their situation better or bearable.  To bring a little sunshine to their day.

 I had a privileged upbringing. Along with that came the lesson of social service and giving back. I was not raised privileged and pretentious, I was raised to appreciate what I had, and that there those less fortunate and also those that were suffering or struggling.  I was taught to try to be the sunshine in everybody's day. To be caring, kind, and compassionate. To leave people a little happier, more cared for, or appreciated than before I came. I was taught to share the gift of myself with others.  Sometimes all we need as humans, is the touch of another to know someone cares.  Sometimes all we need is a little time spent to reaffirm our faith in people. Sometimes we all need a butt in a chair beside us, simply holding our hand. A little caring, sharing and laughter help feed the soul!

I learned by example from my mother, father, Nana and Pawpaw how to be compassionate.  I was not aware that when someone's loved one passed away, going to their side, taking them food, holding them while they cried, being by their side at the wake and funeral were acts of compassion, it's just what we did. I learned that when my Granny and Pawpaw passed that you would do anything to take away the hurting, the pain from your loved ones if you could...even though you were hurting yourself.  You help pick out the clothes, you write the thank you cards, you are just there, supporting them silently as they go through the journey of grief. When friend's grandparents and parents pass away, you are just there by their side, no matter the miles, because you know just by being there, you will bring a little relief to make their suffering bearable, even if just for a dinner, a visit, an hour.

In my youth group, when you were elected president of your local assembly as well as when you were elected to be the district president, you got to choose a project. A social service project that you raised money for, a charity for which you had all the members volunteer, a social service project that in some way allowed the members to give back to their community.  Some collected winter coats for children, some donated all the money from saved pop tabs to local women's shelters, some raised money for the Heart Association, I chose to collect toys and candy canes to take to the Shriner's Crippled Children's Hospital in Lexington, Ky.  We traveled to the hospital the week before Christmas and delivered the toys and got to meet and hang out with many of the children. The smiles, hugs, and laughter that filled the room that day I will never forget! At least for one afternoon, for a few hours, the girls from my district assembly and I brightened the day of each and every one of the sick children in that hospital.  We brought more than presents that day, the gift of ourselves. Most of those children spent Christmas that year in that hospital, some never made it home again. 

When my mother was sick and eventually passed away, what I gave to her came back to me a thousand fold. I was in awe of the sweet calls, food, visits, play dates, friends, cards, gifts, messages, and  general outpouring of love and compassion that was shown and given to me.

When one is a loving, giving, compassionate person, it sometimes comes back to bite you on the booty! People will refuse your offers of kindness, and they will take advantage of your compassionate nature.  Don't let them block your sunshine! Gracefully bow out and know that you did your best!

Sometimes when we need compassion from others the most, is when people will surprise you.  Some will just simply be there for you in whatever ways you need, silently standing by you through your loss, guilt, disappointment, or shame and the ones you thought would always be there for you, will remain silent and far away.  There are many lessons learned through and in compassion.  Being on the receiving end can really open your eyes to the goodness and on the flip side the imperfection in people.  Everybody has bad times, bad days, bad situations, and conversely good compassionate people have lapses in, well, being compassionate. 

You never know what struggles someone is facing.  You never know what battles someone has fought and won.  Always try to put yourself in someone else's shoes.  Be the one who tries to understand. Not just for those who are less fortunate than you.  You can show compassion in every facet of your daily life.  Is there a new mom at the PTO meeting? Scoot over and invite her to sit with you.  Is there a new face in the pickup group after school? Say hello! Is there a mom with three kids struggling to get the door? Hold the door for her! Is there a set of new parents in church with a chatty baby? Tell them that you are glad they are in church, and comment on how cute the baby is! Know someone struggling with infertility? Share your story and/or a hug. Know a person who has just lost a a parent? Share your story and let them know that you know their pain and suffering! Offer prayers,a shoulder, some food, or to handle the influx of visitors after the funeral, to help them disappear for a few hours to get their mind off the tragedy.

There are a million ways to be compassionate!

Always be the most compassionate you can be.  The world is hard and ugly, and sometimes people are too.  Just put your compassionate panties on and carry on! Don't let anyone bring you down or make you want to change your sweet giving nature! Give of yourself freely and often.  It feels good to brighten someone else's day! Even in the face of naysayers, be good anyway! Do good anyway.

Be a listener, be a friend, be someone who hugs even though they don't understand, show some love, share yourself, be there, show you care, and always honor the golden rule.