Lead With Compassion
Compassion is one of the most underrated emotions/actions that we experience as human beings. It has the power to change the world, and yet it's become controversial lately.
I can safely say that Compassion has seen better days in our current culture; that much is evident.
I've been dismayed to hear some of our elected officials deride the idea of compassion as a sign of weakness or wokeness. In fact, ridicule seems to be the preferred method of responding to the challenges faced by others rather than compassion.
I recently read that one of the main obstacles to compassion in our current culture is the belief by many people that somehow being compassionate means giving more than the other person, which then translates into resentment.
But acting compassionately is one of the most powerful weapons against division, hatred, and bigotry. It's the one sure way to create connections between us and others---even those with whom we disagree.
Theologian Ilia Delio had this to say about the power of Compassion:
Compassion requires a depth of soul, a connectedness of soul to earth, an earthiness of person to person, and a flow of love from heart to heart.
When we act with compassion toward others, we are fostering a connectedness not only between ourselves and another person but also with all of Creation itself. Compassion becomes the very conduit through which the Spirit of God flows, bringing healing and wholeness to the world.
To that end, Delio goes on to assert this incredibly beautiful and on-point truth:
We have the capacity to heal this earth of its divisions, its wars, its violence, and its hatreds. This capacity is the love within us to suffer with another and to love the other without reward. Love that transcends the ego is love that heals.
There is nothing weak about acting compassionately. It's one of the most difficult and complicated things we can do to show our love for God and others. It's how those who claim to follow Jesus can show their intentions to do just that.
Compassion requires vulnerability, which, in turn, requires strength and a defiant sense of hope.
It takes strength to be vulnerable because when we open ourselves up to the world, we risk being wounded. And this is why if we want to heal through Compassion, we open ourselves up with defiant hope that our vulnerability will allow the world to find a home within us.
Compassion also requires that we truly see one another, which means that we often have to dig deeper below the surface of what we experience of others to the wounds that lie beneath.
When we do this, we realize that even those we find hard to love and show compassion toward have the potential for great good within them, just like us.
They also have the potential to inflict great pain upon the world, just like us.
We all bear the scars from the wounds we've received in life; for many of us, it doesn't take much to re-open those wounds. So, in every sense, we can not only understand one another if we are brave enough to try, but we can also identify with one another through our pain.
Showing compassion is the most direct and effective way to discover peace within and also to share that same peace with the world and the people around us.
When we lead with compassion, we create a gentler, more loving space for others to experience grace and let down the walls that keep them from experiencing the shalom and love of God.
May we each find the strength and the hope to be compassionate. May we each learn what it means to see others more clearly as God sees them.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all now and forever. Amen.