I need more compassion

Life is full of pain and unhappiness. It is also full of joy and celebration. The problem is that people show up for the party and scatter like roaches when it’s time to clean up. It’s sad. It is funny how many Facebook friends I have when I’m giving things away, when I’m hosting a play date, when I’m having a party. When I get sick the numbers dwindle. The comments are few and far between. It causes me a great deal of frustration but I know deep down I am not surprised at all. Most people don’t have very much compassion.

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As my husband pointed out this lack of compassion doesn’t have to be understood as people being anti-you. It may just mean they are really pro-self. They aren’t trying to hurt you really, they are just trying to help themselves so much that they don’t really notice when they are stepping all over you and your feelings.

Why such a lack of compassion? I think people are very worried about what they aren’t getting. Again, it’s all about us these days! If someone needs help, then someone needs to give it. The giving of something. Whether it is time, money or energy, it doesn’t matter. What people start to think is not what I can give, but what will I lose? If I babysit your children, I have lost free time. If I give you some money, I will have less for myself. If I give you some happiness, I will have less happiness myself. I don’t know what it’s like for people in other places, but I know around here no one has a cup running over to share because we have super-sized cups that we will never finish filling.

We try to pass off our selfishness in a rational way. That family doesn’t deserve help with their medical bills because they should have saved more for emergencies. That new mom doesn’t need meals delivered because they have enough money to order out. She doesn’t deserve kind words because she doesn’t look that sick to me. We have a million reasons why we don’t want to share what we have. But the real reason is we are hoarders and we are stashing everything away for the day we need it for ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong! I am certainly not saying I am guilt-free here. I know I have a lot of work to do on my own compassion. And nothing has brought that home more than being on the receiving end of very little compassion! The real struggle for me, and I’m sure many others, is trying not to play the all-knowing when it is time to show compassion.

Has a friend asked for something they are in need of? You should probably give it to them. That’s the right thing to do. If you can spare it then you should share it! I don’t mean if you aren’t going to ever use it again. I mean, if you have it in your possession and they need it more than you do. It could be anything! Money, a meal, time, attention, love, that amazing dress that you haven’t worn in ages, hand-me-down baby clothes you hope to use again one day, books, craft supplies. Real compassion means having sympathy for the suffering of others and a desire to end that suffering. Making someone else feel less pain doesn’t mean that it has to hurt you (http://www.compassionfatigue.org/). However, it might mean you need to give more than you are comfortable with if you are used to hoarding stuff for a rainy someday in your future.

What if your friend never repays you? That happens and it might change your relationship in the future. But since time is flowing ahead whether you like it or not, things are changing this moment and withholding assistance to maintain the status quo won’t stop time in its tracks.

I certainly could have used more compassion right before and after my recent surgery. I did receive some! But this was one of those times I could have used much, much more. So, I’m going to reassess my life and see how I can fit in more compassion close to home. Not just donations to the food bank and Goodwill. Not just checks to feed children half a world away. Not just compassion in the abstract. Just a little more holding doors open, delivering meals, more unnecessary gifts, more gift cards slipped under the door, more smiles, more dinner parties, less worry about the return on my investment.  

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