Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bad Case of Compassion

It's true - I've had a terrible case of compassion this week.

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.


Cheryl said...

Well. That's a deep post for a Saturday night! But a very true one. I, too, find myself aching for things that I wouldn't have before kids. They definitely do something to us, don't they?

LoveFeast Table said...

Well said! When I first started reading your post, I thought to myself, "Is she pregnant?" I always get weepy when I'm pregnant. It's actually one of the early signs! But, as I read on, you grabbed my heart. It does hurt to have compassion...but give me compassion over empathy any day! As a society, we are so inundated with info, good and bad, I think we've become numb to the pains around us every day! It feels good to helps us feel alive.
ps. I was in your hood today! My husband is renovating a house there!

Moxie said...

Well said, my dear. Well said.

In other news, I wanted to tell you that I gave you a shout-out in the wedding I officiated last weekend. I included the line "Happiness is the moment, joy is the journey." It went over very well with the bride & groom. So thank you for that inspired line.

Dutchmuse said...

Beautifully said. I can so relate. I can't even imagine what 3 kids would do to me. So sorry to hear about your friends.

Aging Mommy said...

Motherhood has definitely changed me completely. I never used to cry or get emotional over things but when my daughter was born three years ago the waterworks were turned on and have been permanently running since, so now I cry over every single little magical milestone and event in our lives and, like you, find I am far more empathetic to others and sad situations. So yes, I think if I had three children I would be crying me a river :-) But you know, I agree with you, aside from the embarrassment of being found with a tear in my eye on so many occasions now, I infinitely prefer the new version of myself and it is only through loving and feeling deeply that you live fully.

So a great post, thank you for that.

CaraBee said...

It seems it is a common thing that women become capable of so much more compassion after they have a child. I was not a crier before. Months would go by between times. Nowadays, I'm lucky if I make it a week. I tear up at the smallest things these days. Heck, I just looked at the coming home pictures on The Pioneer Woman's site and cried. And while I sometimes feel a little weird about it, I embrace these emotions in a way I never did or could before. I am a fuller person for it.

Lori-Anne said...

What is it about motherhood? Like you - and others who have commented here - I seldom cried before my first pregnancy. And now I think my bladder is too close to my tear ducts. And while I used to think that being emotional was a sign of weakness, I now realize the opposite is true.

prashant said...

Well said.
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JC Dude said...

Your compassion is heart felt and Christ like...thanks for sharing!


Sandra Heska King said...

I want a cross-shaped life. To go to the depths. Thanks for deep thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I too became a whole new (and emotional) person when I became a mom. It's amazing that your heart can ache so deeply for complete strangers in certain situations.

Great post... thank you!

caryjo said...

In our present days we have to deal with so much that others simply didn't. In seconds we can hear or see something that would have taken weeks or months before... or never been seen/heard. Sometimes the news-- locally, nationally, internationally or family related-- is simply overwhelming to our emotions. People can choose to keep soft hearts or harden them. Nice to hear about your soft heart. That's what will bless.

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