Let’s spend a minute talking about compassion. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. The operative words being “with a desire to alleviate it.” Each of us goes through periods of struggle. Sometimes we make others aware of the challenges we face, and sometimes we choose to keep them to ourselves. If you do not share your experiences then others are not conscious of them. There is little they can offer by way of compassion.
What happens, however, when we allow someone that little glimpse? Will they say “oh that’s too bad,” pat you on the back and go on their merry way? Or, will they take they fully take the time to honestly HEAR what is going on with you? Will they ask someone close to you in order to minimize your pain of repeating the story multiple times? And upon hearing what will they do?
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are too concerned, burdened, overwhelmed by their own burdens to help lighten anyone else’s load. Some people are not overburdened; they are just undercaring. Frankly, your woes have no effect on their lives and they don’t care to hear the details of your issues. But then…along come the compassionate ones. These are the folks who will let you unburden your heart leaving all your troubles on their strong shoulders. Because of the type of hearts that they have, you may never know how heavy their individual load already is that day. They may never get around to sharing their struggle with you.
I love compassionate people. Not only are they caring and concerned about you, but for me they remind me of all that is good in the world. Compassionate people do what they can to help others. They do it often because that is how they are designed. They are truly the architects of the song verse “if I can help someone along the way, then my living shall not be in vain.” These people have large hearts and the things they do for others is not for public knowledge or accolades. They would honestly rather that no one know.
I don’t know if true compassion can be taught, but is certainly worth looking into. If you find yourself somewhat detached from the “issues” of others consider what your wish would be were the shoe on the other foot. Consider the little things you can do to help alleviate someone else’s pain. I don’t believe that compassion lies solely in large gestures. As a matter of fact, I more believe it is the little things we do that count toward lightening someone’s else’s load. I love the Kirk Franklin version of the song “Lean on Me” especially the line that says “Here’s my shoulder. You can lean on me.” Be someone else’s crutch today, if only for a few minutes. Lighten their load. Help them laugh when the tunnel ahead looks bleak. Give them a meal to tide them over. Offer your sincere friendship when they are feeling all alone. And by all means, don’t be the one who adds one additional brick to the pile. Being kind is free. Spreading love is priceless.