I was reading Henri Nouwen's book today "Turning My Mourning into Dancing." He gives a definition for compassion from the original words meaning "to stay in the suffering." He goes on to explain that this is not giving words or directives to people but simply to suffer with them.
I find this is not always easy and sometimes impossible. I turned away from a friend this week. Not because I wanted to, but grace I needed to stay in the suffering with her ran out. I'm not proud of that, but I am acknowledging my limits.
I, too, have suffered thus I want to be a woman of compassion. I sense my whole being longing for joy, for relief for the ones I love. I pray for divine reversals, turnarounds, miracles. I celebrate slivers of silver linings, anything that holds forth hope
I don't know about you, but all around me, family and friends are suffering. I'm not talking about little things but big things. Cancer, difficult marriage, a child dying, fear, and hurt and rejection. There are no shortcuts through these things. They have to be walked out, often while broken. My heart guides me, each woman whose arm I slip through mine by holding her up in prayer whether by phone or in person, touched in some small way.
I pray for the limitless God to be seen through my limited life. I feel weights lift as I acknowledge that I cannot stay in the suffering with my friend, but I know the One who will. He says to me, "It's okay."
It is better to admit this than to try to rescue her with my advice, to move her before she is ready. Too late this time for such wisdom but I am learning.
I pick up Brene Brown's book, The Art of Imperfection. She is writing of compassion, too.
"Compassionate people are boundaried people."
After witnessing so much hurt this past year, I wanted to always be a healer, always reaching out, never turning from a need. I am finding that this is not possible. I am imperfect. I am weary. I am in need of healing and grace myself. Even Jesus rested and got alone and I am far from being Him.
Just as I type these words, a text comes through from a close friend at the end of her rope. I simply say that I love her and will utter a prayer.
I lift my eyes from the keyboard to my window where the sun is shining in and I remember to be grateful for all that I am blessed with in this moment. I must count gifts to survive. I smile and there is hope.