One of my goals lately has become to truly live compassionately, living so that it is a truly authentic piece of who I am — all of the time.
I’ve been tossing around ideas that I have come across throughout my lifetime, and I find some are truly interesting.
- It’s easier to “feel” compassion for someone you don’t truly know. For roughly 12-15 years, I have cycled through growing my hair out and donating it to locks of love. I’ll never know who (if anyone) received a wig from my hair, but I love feeling like I made life better for a child. Ditto for deciding to run as a “St. Jude Hero.” I love taking something I enjoy and making it mean more. While I know people who are still living because of St. Jude, I don’t specifically know anyone or any member of a family who currently is receiving treatment at the hospital. So, it is very easy to see the needs of those individuals and class them as worthy of my time and efforts. Without knowing them, I don’t have to wrestle with their flaws.
- Compassion is hard — especially when it involves someone who has hurt you deeply. Let’s face it, human nature takes us immediately to a place where we either desire to exact our own retribution or wait to see karma do it for us! The most freeing thought I have encountered was just a day or two ago, and it involved forgiveness (a form of compassion). It feels like, when we forgive, that we are letting the other person “get away” with whatever it is that they have done. True forgiveness requires faith: faith that Heavenly Father will bless you to equal or greater proportions than what you have lost, and that turning the other person over to the Savior will exact just the right amount of justice and mercy to be right for all the damage that has been done (or, in other words, deciding that God can take care of the whole thing better than we ever could). As hard as it is, true forgiveness is the only way to truly become free from the chains of the hurt and to live in compassion again.
- Sometimes, doing the compassionate thing looks like it’s not compassionate at all. Holy scriptures teach us that sin and rebellion harm the soul of those who choose those actions and attitudes. The damage increases with the knowledge the person has when they choose to sin or rebel. Stepping up in courage and attempting to help that person see their error is actually compassionate, but it probably won’t be seen as such by the person you are confronting. If you have to take greater steps because you have a responsibility to help them be held responsible for serious sin, you will be seen as even less compassionate. It is most likely that the other person will see you as being a traitor and as being vindictive. Just as with forgiveness, this is between you and God more than you and the other person. Compassion has eternal welfare in mind.
So, as I continue to search for ways to rid my heart of the pain of past hurts, to reach out and help others, and to totally live in compassion, I find that prayer is vital. Not only do I have to pray that all of the negative feelings will be removed or that I will be shown how to overcome them, I have to pray, as directed in the Book of Mormon, to be filled with the Savior’s love.
For me, it’s a slow journey, filled with both successes and set backs. Even so, it’s worth it, because I become more open to being inspired by the Holy Ghost, happier in my outlook, and more satisfied with the path my life is taking.