Bursting into tears left right & center - not only for sadnesses, but also for transitions, for big moments, even just for beautiful writing.
Historically speaking, I'm not the weepy one. Or at least I wasn't. Then I did something that (I think) chemically altered my brain: I had a baby - three of 'em, actually. Not sure what neurochemical Molotov cocktail exploded there, but I find that as I grow into mothering, it has blown open my spirit to all the pain in the world - and now I take it on as my own.
I worry. I hurt. And yes, I cry.
I hear about a missing mother on the news - her children left alone in the home, and I worry. My heart breaks for the fear those kids are feeling. I watch Law & Order, and my heart breaks for the kids whose parents are wiped out in the opening scenes. (Yes I do I feel silly getting choked up in front of the TV, thankyouverymuch.)
This week I had friends share bad news, disappointments, frustrations - my head swirled with all that they were dealing with. Heard news about the end of a marriage, and it broke my own heart into pieces. Heard about a family hashing out their darkest secrets in court, and it hurt deep in my spirit.
In the run up to Easter, our pastor talked at length about the intersection of the Passion and compassion, and described to his listeners how mapping our lives on this model leads us to live a 'cross shaped life' as well. He illustrated for us how
[...] It’s the sharing of the experience that transforms – and here we see the great cost in living this way, because to live in our guts, to feel with compassion inevitably means we will be changed, we won’t be the same. To take on another’s suffering and pain, to participate in it with them, to stand with them or attempt to share the experience with them means we will inevitably be changed. There’s no way we can go to such depths without it having some kind of impact upon us. And that scares us – rightfully so.
Regardless of your religion, if you 'go to the depths' with the people in your life - if you choose to feel deeply, to share the experience with them - you will be changed forever. Your heart will be marked by the suffering of others, but also it will be made strong - so strong.
It hurts, to bear the suffering of others. At the very least, it is distracting. But in an effort to live authentically, to live in honesty with those in my life, I think I want those pangs of compassion.