Week 1 of one of my New Year’s Resolutions has already been turned on its head.
I resolved to love God more with my heart by loving others more with compassion.
But instead of giving compassion, I’ve been receiving it. Which is just the kind of thing that God likes to do.
Here’s what I learned this week from others about how to show compassion.
1. Look at their photos
Be honest…do you really enjoy looking at tons of photos of somebody else’s grandkids? A few photos? Okay. But an album full? Um, not really.
But Mrs. Davis did. With appropriate ooh’s and ah’s. At my parents’ house last Saturday, she looked at a photo album sitting on the coffee table, and commented so sweetly on all the pictures with sincerity. She is a woman who knows how to love her friends—be interested in THEIR lives. Give attention.
2. Share your own coping strategies
After visiting Jeff’s dad in the hospital last Sunday, we went down a few floors to visit the dad of Jeff’s old classmate, dying with cancer. The mom stepped into the hall and shared how she’s looking to the Lord to provide all they need to get through this.
She helped alleviate some of our pain at this sad scene by being so courageous herself. And her faith inspired me to step it up a notch, and to remember even if in the midst of receiving compassion, you can also give it to others by sharing what works.
3. Take out their trash
When I got to my parents’ house yesterday, their newspaper was propped by their door instead of down by the road, and the garbage can had been brought up. Who did this? Their neighbor, Kathy. Nobody asked her to. She just saw a need and filled it.
Compassion isn’t necessarily flowery words or great sacrifices. It’s sometimes the tiniest things that can fill somebody’s heart with comfort.
4. Give them permission to slack off
Angela called me yesterday to offer to “take out my trash.” I didn’t have anything for her to do, so she gave me another gift instead: she said to take a snow day and not feel guilty about it.
Sometimes it’s good to remind others that they need to rest and take care of themselves with a bit of “nothingness” from time to time. It’s another way to show compassion.
5. Give the gifts you’ve got
My dad got really bad cancer news on Wednesday. By the time we sat down with the scheduling lady to decide what to do next, we were overwhelmed with info. But this woman had compassion oozing out of her. Not mushy sentimentalism, but a strong desire to eliminate undue pressure to make a hasty decision. She couldn’t take away the cancer, but she could take away unnecessary hassles caused by the system.
She gave what she had to give. Others this week have given me songs, prayers, scriptures, hugs, words—all expressions of hope, faith, and love.
The gift of their presence. In person or on-line. All good. Walking beside me. Walking beside my family.
That’s compassion. That’s good. That’s God.
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