Teaching what I don’t know

Last week, while hosting a full week of blog posts on the topic of compassion, I found that I was trying to teach what I had yet to learn.

I don’t want to repeat last Wednesday’s post, but I’m still sorting through this whole compassion thing. You know, I really thought I had this one down. I’ve been practicing compassion for as long as I remember.  I’ve participated in mission trips around the world, studied the life of Christ, read Irresistible Revolution, and committed to volunteering. I even read a book called Compassion. I was quite surprised when I realized at 9am last Monday morning, that I had no idea how to be compassionate towards my own family members.

And I Fly Away ....

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

We had a tragic family death last week, my cousin’s child did not survive birth. While I am somewhat removed from the situation, I was filled with empathy towards my family members that experienced the loss. Empathy and compassion aren’t the same.

I fought myself all week. I sought advice and wisdom from friends. I prayed, Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I was open about my struggle to be compassionate. I listened. By the time we gathered for a graveside service on Saturday, I felt like I had been given a beautiful gift. We released butterflies at the end of the service (yes), and family members spent real time together. We did more than talk, we built relationships. We were kind to each other, and offered hospitality. We laid a foundation to see each other as human, and let go of past hurt.

At least, I did.

The death was, and is, horrible and saddening. I desperately wish circumstances were different. However, I absolutely believe that there exists a God who redeems all things. Not “these things happen for a reason”, or “God knows best”. No. Instead, “this too, can be redeemed”.

We give each other a great gift when we choose to see another person in their humanity, and when we release our expectations to be loved in return.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t know many of the answers to life, or have my life “all together”. I’m walking, struggling, laughing, grieving, hoping, dreaming, and wanting.

Living compassionately is something I choose to practice. I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing, or how to offer compassion towards someone who’s hurt me or who I passionately disagree with. But, as sure as the sun, I want to try. If death can be redeemed by the renewing of relationships, then I whole-heartedly believe that “This too, can be redeemed”.


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