Compassion

“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.

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Lent

So our Lenten season this year will be a bit different for us. We have in the past fasted as a family things like meat, media, other items from our lives that are “unnecessary.” However, this year as Mike and I are frequently reminded how spoiled we are and we are constantly telling our kids how spoiled they are, we are trying something new. We both have travelled both to places where things are easy and where things are not so easy. We consistently find happier more satisfied people in places that struggle. Here in our Colorado lives where the sun shines and we are warm, fed and clothed we feel as if we struggle when we are looking to ourselves and our things or at our “neighbors” for our fulfillment.  So begins our season of Lent.

As we were looking toward this season of penitence we asked our kids about what they might feel led to fast. Isabella decided on her own to fast pizza, ice cream, chocolate and peanut butter. Since the rest of us probably could not survive without 1 never the less all 4 of these things we are letting her fast these things alone. To Quinn we suggested he fast hot sauce as he literally has an addiction but you would have thought we asked for his arms…so we let this go too. Kadin is 4 and if it is out of sight it is out of mind so fasting for him is not too difficult since he just goes on to the next thing.  Mike and I just came off a fast from last month for another thing we have chosen to do. All this to say we aren’t fasting.

We have decided to make our season of identifying with Jesus’ sacrifice also a season of identifying with certain people groups around us. We have chosen 4 different people groups to delve into their lives. The 1st is those that live where they do not speak the language. In our tiny town of 2000, about half are Spanish speakers. Mike calls it “little Tijuana”.  I sometimes find myself thinking that “They should learn English!” That confession out there… these are the 1st we are recognizing. On Sunday we attended a Spanish mass, then went to an authentic Mexican restaurant. I know that you are thinking that doesn’t sound like much of a struggle. It wasn’t. I must confess…we loved the service and we loved the restaurant. The church was standing room only and the restaurant we were recognized because we frequent the establishment. We used our tiny vocabularies of Spanish words to follow the mass and to order food. What brought it home for us was that we stood out! We were definitely the odd balls in both places and everyone knew it. We were not unwelcomed or treated unkindly. Quite the opposite! Quinn did say that if he couldn’t understand his coaches or  his teachers it would be “totally hard!” But it makes him understand his teammates Juan and Sergio better and why they don’t talk a whole lot.

We have plans for 3 more weeks of recognizing hardships of others…of putting ourselves into their lifestyles and into their situations. We could do this for many many months without exhausting a supply of groups. We are praying that our kids realize how good they have life and that we remember that our battles in this life could be so much harder. We all need to remember that ALL good things come from God and that to HIM and HIM alone are we to be grateful.