“Of these three men, who do you think was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by robbers?” The expert said, “The one who was kind enough to help him.” Jesus told him, “go and imitate his example!” Luke 10:36-37 GWT
One of the most important things that I want my kids to learn and to carry with them is compassion. We talk about this often. Don’t stare. Always offer help. Pray for those who need it and for those who don’t know they need it. Offer the kindness to others that you would like to receive. This is tantamount for living out the call of Christ. Be Jesus for those around you. Let them see the grace that He has given you so that they can wonder what it’s all about and so through you they can’t help but want to know more about Him.
I crave compassion. There have been times, as the mother of a child with autism that I have longed for compassion in a way that I can’t even put into words. People can be so cruel to anyone who is the slightest bit different. So when you are talking about someone who is VERY different…well, let’s just say you don’t always see the best that people have to offer. I remember the sight of Genevieve’s face when, as a very little girl, someone made nasty comments about her sister in the grocery store. I remember having more heart-to-heart discussions than I could possibly count with a very sad big sister who could not understand why others couldn’t see the wonder that was her little sister and why people would choose to stare or offer unsolicited advice on what they would do different “if that child was mine”. And more recently, I remember the face and searching eyes of one precious 10-year old who was completely confused by strangers’ stares.
At another time in my life, this would have made me bitter. There were times when all I wanted to do was be angry. I wanted to tell off that elderly gentleman behind me in the checkout line who suggested that perhaps my child needed more spankings. But what I realized was that in those moments, my children were looking to me more than they were looking toward those strangers. Those people may not have been showing compassion for our situation but I could certainly show them compassion. Because I knew better. Because I had a Savior who showed me the ultimate compassion. He offered me mercy when otherwise I would have been left behind. So, eventually, as my heart softened, my children saw me speak kindly to these people. They heard me explain to the gentleman in the checkout line that he was not witnessing a tantrum but the evidence of too much stimulation. They saw me deal patiently and with grace as I dealt with other parents who just didn’t get us. My children saw me explain to other children that though the little girl they were staring at was different from them in a few small ways, she was just like them in the most important ways. And what they learned from this was that it is always possible to extend compassion to others. Even the ones to whom we don’t really feel like extending compassion. Especially them.
And so while we may not be saving a life in the literal sense as in the story of “The Good Samaritan”, we are choosing to make our own lives better through the compassion that this story teaches us. And we just might be pointing to the Author.