Tag Archive | compassion

Whatever Happened to Compassion?

I’m fed up. I pray that I never know enough to be a jerk about it. I want to be fully cognizant that the more I learn the less I know about myself, the people around me and the world I live in.

Why would this be my beef right now?

Because some people blamed Robin William’s death on his wife. Some tortured his grieving daughter on twitter. A church wants to boycott his funeral but a comedian has offered to pay for them to go protest ISIS instead.

As I do have a snarky side I’ll refrain from commenting further on that one. 

Because some people rejoice at the challenges facing pastor Mark Driscoll.

Because some people are more concerned with dumping ice than reaching out to someone with ALS personally.

Because some people are more concerned with the size of someone’s waist than with the state of their heart.

Because when I was on vacation and met a homeless man, some preferred to ignore him rather than expressing compassion for his plight.

What’s the point in learning if we lose our heart? What’s the point in memorizing Scripture and being able to defend our faith in Jesus Christ if we never live out our faith? Yes, Scripture is clear. Learn sound doctrine. Defend the faith. But even more than that we are to let our actions speak louder than our words. We are to bear fruit.

fruit checker

To listen to another’s hurts and encourage them.

To treat people with respect–from your wife to the homeless man on the street to the pastor you only know through social media. Or has that our standard of truth nowadays?

I have strong opinions on many things – but if expressing them as an expert would throw up a roadblock to Christ, I try to refrain.

After all, God can be glorified in the life of someone who is:

  • Democrat or Republican.
  • A Packer or Bears fan or yes, even a Vikings fan
  • Sends their kids to public school, private school or home-schools
  • Vaccinate or choose not to
  • Seeks traditional medicine for cancer or seeks alternative options.
  • Whether you worship singing hymns or contemporary music

I’ve often said I am a champion navel-gazer. (for those who are confused, I’m talking about my belly button). Part of that though is my personality which enables me to write and serve in ministry like I do. It’s part of God’s unique design that I am introspective. But I hope I am never so self-absorbed to ignore the pain of another.

I probably swing too far the other way.

But the reality is, none of us can save anyone from the pain and challenges of life. We might speak words of love and encouragement. We might give money or food or meet other needs. But ultimately the deepest struggles we all face are at our core, spiritual. And knowledge can only go so far to heal those hurts.

We all need compassion. Understanding. Love.

We do not need condemnation, harsh words, hatred spewing out.

And part of me fears that I’ll come off as judgemental in even writing this post. After all, don’t the narcissists and self-righteous “know-it-alls” among us deserve compassion too? Sure, but not for those behaviors. Pity maybe.

Lord help us. There are people suffering in this world who desperately need us and not our deep-seated opinions. Give us humble broken hearts for those who hurt. Make us quick to listen and slow to speak. And help us recognize the divine opportunities you put in our path to be “Jesus with skin on” to those we meet. 

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Rant on Mental Illness

I was talking to a friend today and she said, “The fact that you have a degree in Counseling Psych and have worked in the field of mental health, is pretty funny.” Sure is. Irony must be my middle name.

This past week there as another shooting at Fort Hood and I was angry when the media started to bill the shooter as someone with mental illness, possibly PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). So? That kind of diagnosis doesn’t make someone a murderer. It doesn’t even mean that individual will hurt someone. What the media has done though is send those with mental illness back into a shadow of shame.

Mental illness does not deserve censure. It deserves compassion. As much as someone with diabetes or an autoimmune disease or perhaps suffering with recurring migraines. We have compassion for those people, even if we can’t “see” their illness. It’s not like a broken bone that can heal. The mind of some people (not all) with mental illness is fast paced and can resemble a runaway train. The only problem is the engineer can’t put on the brakes. sherlock - whats it like in your funny little brains

The brilliance of the show, Sherlock (BBC), is that they show to a certain degree the workings of this genius’ mind. He calls himself a high functioning sociopath. In reality this is a subcategory of the Anti-social personality disorder. In many ways, this self-diagnosis is correct and he makes good use of his almost savant capabilities. In essence, Sherlock Holmes is mentally ill. Not all people have minds like Sherlock’s, but many have thoughts that race, or emotions that flux out of control. Unless one has experienced this first-hand, it’s hard to understand or grasp.

The point I’m trying to make though is that we need to be less judgemental and more compassionate towards those that struggle with any kind of mental illness. Having said that, we also need to understand that some can be highly annoying and without the grace of God, socially devastating in a person’s ability to function in the world of work and relationships.

Sherlock lives for the excitement of the chase because he mind is racing all the time. He has pent-up energy thrumming through is body. I doubt that ASPD is his only diagnosis if we were honest. He has found a way to make use of his skills, but as Inspector Lastraud says in Season 1, Epsiode 1, when asked why he puts up with Sherlock: “Because I think he’s a great man and someday, he might even be a good one.” The show is not so much about saving lives and solving murders, but is more about his growth as a human being as he interacts with Dr. John Watson who becomes, over time, his one and only friend.

On a side note: Dr. John Watson is apparently a PTSD sufferer. Fascinating that his therapist encourages him to blog about what happens his life as part of his recovery. I loved his pre-Sherlock response to that. “Nothing every happens to me.” Ha!

So you have two mentally ill people saving London . . . and perhapse the world. Maybe we’re not all so bad anyway? Maybe we are even useful?

So please, let’s just realize we all have something wrong with us. It’s called sin. And sin causes people to put labels on others and judge them without truly understanding. Sin leads to blanket assumptions, like the one about PTSD. And please, for the sake of the men and women who have served, let’s give them the honor and grace to heal without bearing the shame of mental illness too. They would have died for you and your right to be free in this country. They volunteered for that when they joined. They have seen things God never intended for man to have to experience.

Honor. Duty. Respect. It’s a hard world out there for all of us and we all face a battle every day, some of use face it inside, some face it on the outside and for some the two feed off each other.

And for the rest of us, those who struggle in battles unseen, I pray we have compassion and grace for ourselves. Peace, friends.

Invisible Illness

Occasionally you see something come up on Facebook about the fact that people have invisible illness but look fine on the outside. It’s easy to judge someone based one outward appearances when you don’t know the struggles they are having. I suppose we do that to boost our own sagging egos.

But consider for a moment some of these scenarios:

The fat woman you see at church that just seems to keep gaining weight may be having a reaction to some medications for something. Or she has an out of control thyroid. I once gained 40 lbs in two months without changing a thing about my diet and exercise because of my thyroid and new medication that was not at the right dose. Too bad pills don’t take that kind of weight off just as fast. As fat as someone is, for all you know they have just lost 50 lbs and deserve instead to be encouraged in their journey, not condemned.

The person with the smile that seems distant, might be struggling with depression, anxiety or other issues that are preoccupying their mind. They desperately need a friend but are too wrapped up in their own pain at the moment to respond out in a normal way.

And then these are the hardest. One gal I know has a brain tumor and suffers horrible migraine headaches. To look at her you would only see a smiling mother of six young children, who might just be overwhelmed with the challenges of parenting. She is, but with a harder struggle than you can imagine.

Or the woman who shows up to church alone every Sunday with her kids. She smiles and looks great and you suspect perhaps her husband just doesn’t want to come to church, when in reality at home she is being emotionally abused but out of respect for her husband, doesn’t say anything to anyone else.

I guess my point is this: We all struggle with something and outward appearances can be deceiving. Not that people are intentionally misleading others, just that our pain is private and we don’t walk around with signs on our heads announcing our struggles.

Depression, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (and any other number of autoimmune diseases), back pain, cancer. All of these can be hidden illnesses that severely impact the person without you seeing their struggle.

The fact is, we all struggle at times. As Gilda Radner used to say “It’s always something.”  And maybe if we can remember that a book cover and it’s contents don’t always match. A house with curb appeal could be a dump on the inside. So the person who seems “fine” may be struggling with deep issues or problems you have no clue of.

So maybe we can be kinder to each other. “So as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another….” Colossians 3:12a (NASB)

And when we see someone who can’t hide their problems, maybe we can reach out to them with empathy. I was on a trip once and one of our group was in a wheelchair. A lady turned to me and said, “It must be hard to have to live that way.” I shrugged and told her that in some ways we are all in a wheelchair, some you just can’t see.