I have often thought about the difference between “feeling sorry for” and “feeling compassion for.” We can feel sorry for someone but it puts us in an us and them mode. We are outside the situation and see it from a distance. We are not really involved.
Compassion is a totally different things. When we are feeling compassion we can feel the pain of the other person. We are involved. We are connected.
When we have been through a similar experience, such as losing a loved one, we know how that is. We have had some of the same feelings and hopefully have come out the other side. This is not a time, however, to offer advice. When people need our compassion they just need someone to be in the same place. Listening, touching (if appropriate), being present in the moment are the most important things.
God uses our stressful experiences by given us the compassion to help others. Compassion is healing for us and others.
Today someone said something to me that reminded me of a profound truth that I began to accept late in life. Having attended college twice with two different degrees it wasn’t until my 40s that I finished my nursing degree. Working with those who were sick brought home to me in a different way that there are some things that we cannot fix.
I have a friend whose grandchild is suffering with brain cancer. It is tragic and I mourn for the struggle they are facing but I can’t fix it.
Right now I am watching three hurricanes in the Atlantic that could devastate some people already hit by another storm. I can’t fix it. I wish I could. I really want to.
We expect everything to continue just exactly the way we want and we are gobsmacked by something that we can’t fix.
While nursing I did learn that things that can’t be fixed can usually be helped in some way. The sick child still has cancer but thanks to medicine he is better (not cured) and has many people helping him and others with financial and emotional support.
The last hurricane has shown that it could not be stopped but many people have put their lives on hold to help. What was amazing to me was to see linemen from Houston here in Savannah helping to restore power to us. They were “paying it forward.”
I have learned that we can’t dwell on the fact that it can’t be fixed but instead concentrate on what is possible to do to help. That way we give of ourselves…….the most precious thing that we can give.
Understand there are things that can’t be fixed but we can help the unendurable be endured.
What are we missing? What is the thing that makes us feel as if we are not complete in some way? What is it that makes some of us feel that only money can fix it. For others it may be fame and others some sort of addiction. We try to fix it with food, alcohol even suicide. We label some people as having an addiction and yet each of us is addicted to something. The question is something that helps us or something that hurts us.
Each of us lives out life striving to fill that void. The quote below from Blaise Pascal shows that humans have had this longing for centuries. Pascal equates it as God.
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)
Some people have said that there is a God sized hole in each of us that we try to fill with things but nothing works. Those of us who sense that hole may be reaching out to understand and find God….each in our own way. For me that search fulfills itself in Christianity. For others it may be Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or wherever you find that peace.
In my mind that peace is found in love and compassion toward others which seems to be at the root of most faiths. Accepting and caring for others no matter their beliefs, color, sexual orientation or anything else pulls us toward filling that hole. Seeking to find something more than ourselves by meditation, prayer and acts of love fill us in a way that nothing else can.
Seek to find that peace for yourselves and help lead others to it.
Today has been a good day in spite of everything messing up.. No matter that it was very hot and also humid I pushed myself to work outside. I tried to finish all major yard work during the spring so that only maintenance would need to be done in the summer but as usual I didn’t finish. Our yard has long stretches of azaleas which form a border between our property and the next door. These are large bushes which grow with little help but so do the vines that love to climb on the azaleas and prevent the sun reaching them. Dragging out vines has become my lifes work. I use an antique golf cart and pull a cart behind it to fill with vines and haul them to the street to be picked up. I was half done with my planned job when the golf cart quit.
Leaving the cart half way down the drive way I decided to weed wack the area I had been working on. As expected I pulled the starter for at least ten minutes before getting the weed wacker to work. When I had done about half of the area new string was needed. That’s when I found that my grandson had replaced the string incorrectly requiring me to go in the house for pliers to fix the problem.
The thing about all of this is that in spite of the hiccups, the aggravations, and the heat I got something done. After a cold shower my sense of humor returned and I found the whole thing funny. In life one of the most important things we need for survival is a sense of humor. Not only should we be able to laugh at events but most importantly laugh at ourselves. We can do some really stupid things but being able to shake them off with laughter is critical. Laughter heals. It is good for our health. If we could laugh for ten minutes of each day we would feel so much better. If we try and find the humor in the things that upset us we will be so much better off.
I am sure that God laughs at us frequently.