One of the privileges of living with an older person is that you learn so much. My mother doesn't sit with a chalkboard and a lesson plan and teach me, like she did with her students years ago, but she teaches me, nonetheless, and her lessons are always important and profound, in ways I don't always recognize until later.
I was thinking today that perhaps the most important thing she started teaching me when I was small, and still teaches me today, is the importance of showing compassion.
In 2005 my mother and I bought this house together. The plan was for her to help me with childcare for my newly adopted daughter, and for us to help her as she grew older. She had lived alone for nine years after Dad died, but the responsibilities of caring for a large house with a pool were starting to feel really burdensome to her. She also wanted to be close to her granddaughter and I'm sure she knew that I was already contemplating another adoption.
Sadly, just a month after we moved into the house, Mom failed to pick up Alesia from school one day and Alesia called me in a panic. I left work and picked her up and we went home to find Mother lying on the laundry room floor with two broken shoulders. She had been on the floor for several hours by then. (Now, when I leave her alone, she wears a medic alert bracelet.)
"Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This Greek word, agápē, and variations of it are frequently found throughout the New Testament. Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers."
There's a lot being written about how important it is to be grateful nowadays. Gratitude IS important. Whenever anything large or small that is good happens to me, I try to remember to thank God, and to reflect on how fortunate I am to have been raised in a loving home by compassionate people. My resolution today is that when I feel tired or frustrated or angry, I need to remember to reach out with compassion, in whatever way I can. I can love on Lola even when she steals food off the table. I can help Mom put on a sweater even when I just want to watch TV. I can call a friend and let them pour out their heart to me on the phone and just listen. I lead a very quiet life, but there are so many ways I can demonstrate compassion, and I want to get better at it.
It's so important also to show compassion, every time we possibly can. Whether it's in a big way - like spending a day cooking for someone you care about who's going through a rough time, or a small way - as in simply showing affection to your family or pets - compassion enriches us. It's just as important for the giver of compassion as the receiver, because compassion heals us. But it's SO powerful, because our example teaches compassion. Compassion soothes our souls like nothing else. Compassion demonstrates the love of Christ for us and through us, and the repercussions are limitless.
If you want to read a wonderful story of compassion, I suggest you read Same Kind of Different As Me. I loved that book so much I bought copies and passed them out to friends and family members. Now it's a movie. Below is a preview. I can't wait to see it.