Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Compassion in the Face of Suffering

Hurt people hurt. Forgiven people forgive. ~~ Steve Saint
It really is as simple and as complicated as that. Our responses in the face of tragedy, cruelty, pain, and suffering reflect back to us the condition of our hearts.

As a child, when I responded with sadness or horror to suffering of various levels, whether fictionalized or real, I was told I was 'too sensitive'. Today I realize the wrongness in that sentiment. My empathy normally led to acts of kindness, even if only to pray.

Memories of my own suffering spur me to compassion for others.

Settling shame from causing others to suffer does its work in my heart, when I let it, leading to a contrition that yields its beautiful fruit in time; forgiveness and understanding for others.

Today, I embrace the suffering my heart endures for it tells me that it remains soft, not hard. A hard heart does not notice or care when injustices stab at it. A soft heart gasps at the injury, remembers the cause, and thanks the Lord for his gentle nudging toward enlightenment.

Suffering hurts. Its pain is either the root of bitterness and decay, or the catalyst for compassion and wisdom.

I choose compassion.

[Thanks to my friend, Joanne Wilson, for the above quote from Steve Saint.]