#1000Speak: Moving from Acceptance to Compassion

When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. ~ Mark 6:34
That’s the last line from yesterday’s Gospel, providing inspiration for me as I respond to this month’s 1000 Speak for Compassion link up.

This month’s topic is Acceptance, which Jesus demonstrates perfectly in the reading above.  See, the disciples had just come back from preaching and teaching and healing.  They were excited to tell Jesus about their adventures, and I’m sure he was excited to hear about them.  But all the people wouldn’t leave them alone.
Jesus knew his disciples needed to rest; they hadn’t even had time to eat anything.  He suggested they withdraw to a “desolate place” so they could be alone and rest.  But the anxious crowds figured out the plan, and pursued them on land as they traveled by boat.  So that when they came ashore, thousands of people (the same 5,000 people who are going to be fed miraculously later) were already there waiting for them.
Now, I don’t know about you, but compassion would NOT have been MY first reaction to this ambush! I would have been irritated, and maybe I would have gotten back in my boat and tried for another, more desolate location.  But this is where ACCEPTANCE comes in.
Jesus accepts his role as shepherd to these frightened sheep.  He gives up his plan of rest and relaxation to care for them.  Can we do the same?  When you are at work, and it’s almost time to leave, and another customer comes in with an annoying concern, can you ACCEPT that this is where you are supposed to be and have compassion for the needs of that person?  When your Facebook friend posts something you disagree with, can you ACCEPT that you have different opinions and have compassion for him? When you are trying desperately to get a moment alone, and your kids are following you around everywhere, can you ACCEPT that your role for this season is to take care of them and have compassion for them?  When your spouse seems demanding and you feel like you are already giving 120%, can you ACCEPT that part of marriage is offering compassion even when you aren’t really feeling it?
ACCEPTANCE is the first step to compassion in these situations.  We cannot “feel WITH” someone without first accepting our role and our call to be of service to that person.  Without acceptance, there is a wall of resentment that prevents true compassion.
#1000 SpeakWant to learn more about 1000Speak?  Start here.  And be sure to check out the other entries in this month’s linkup.
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A Short Christmas Story

William, my big baby boy, is growing up, even though he doesn’t want to.  He’ll be 13 in March, he’s almost as tall as I am, he weighs 140 lbs., and he started middle school this year. [edit: he’s now an 18 year old high school senior, over 6 ft., and about 260 lbs.!]
baby william
He’s not a fan of school, William.  He’s had some struggles, and only returned to formal schooling last year after spending several grades being taught at home.   Making friends with other kids is not his strong point.  And middle school is a particularly vicious place, where bullying is a favorite sport.

This one kid has been a thorn in William’s side most of the year.  The name-calling got so out of hand that both John and I spoke to the boy ourselves after school as well as alerting the principal.  And things improved.  But while he has turned it down a notch, this boy cannot seem to stay away from William.  It’s more irritation than bullying, in my opinion–this boy is much smaller and William is not intimidated, just annoyed.

At first William would come home and complain about how much he “hated” the boy and what “a jerk” he was.  But lately that’s changed.  He still complains, but he also talks about how “sad” and “pathetic” the boy is, how he never does any schoolwork, how he just lays his head down on his desk, how none of the teachers seem to like him much.  He says, “I wonder what his life is like?” and asks me, “Why do you think he acts this way?  What is the matter with him?”  He says he wants to be angry with him but he can’t help feeling sorry for him.
William and Mace
William loves to have conversations in the car on the short drive to school in the morning, and today he introduced the topic.  “What do you think,” he asked me, “Jesus would say about the way we celebrate His birthday?”  We both agreed that Jesus would be in favor of presents, although not materialism.  But that most of all he would like us to show love, especially to those most in need of it.    William recalled the Golden Rule, and then I reminded him about turning the other cheek and loving your enemies.  I suggested–only half serious, really–that he should say Merry Christmas to anyone who bothered him today.

But when William  got in the car this afternoon, he said that on the way out of school he went right up to the boy who has been bothering him, gave him a hug and wished him Merry Christmas.  A few minutes later, he said, the boy walked down to where William was waiting for me and said, “I can’t believe I am saying this, but Merry Christmas to you!” 🙂
William gazing

Conviction about Things We Do Not See

So yesterday I posted a picture of the slate I got from my church roof, and my sister thought she saw a face in it.  Please don’t think I’m attributing miraculous intervention into this and I’m not going to offer my slate for sale on ebay, but I still think it’s a pretty cool coincidence. (Okay, my agnostic friend says that we are hardwired to see faces and that it’s just an optical illusion.  But I think it’s pretty nifty all the same!)
But some people couldn’t see it.  So let’s see if this helps:

photo from www.istockphoto.com

 

Of course, the thing about God is, we don’t have to see Him to know that He is there–in our church buildings, in His beautiful creation, in each other. 🙂

“Faith is constant assurance concerning what we hope for and conviction about things we do not see.”

                        –St. Paul