Thursday, June 01, 2006

Compassion clears the way

Someone told me about a turning point in their relationship with their teenager yesterday, I’d like to share it with you. (It’s necessarily anonymous.)

Years ago, there was a teenaged girl who was very confused and rebellious. She was all out of sorts and directionless. She skipped school and let her life slide toward inaction.

When her parents found out the extent of the problem, they were shocked and didn’t know what to do. A lot of prayer was poured into this situation. The mother remembers a turning point for herself as a time when she just had a sudden influx of compassion for her daughter.

She had a change of heart in that moment from being angry or frustrated to a deepened understanding of what the child was going through. The relationship changed from a battle of wills to better choices on both sides. Eventually the daughter was enrolled in a private school that helped turn her around.

I’m learning a lot about compassion myself these days. When someone frustrates me or I’m convinced they’re headed in the wrong direction, occasionally I’ll get these inspirations of compassion that help me calm myself, catch my breath, and understand. Compassion helps me take a step back and regard the other not as the enemy but as a fellow traveler I’m here to support.

Instead of blaming another for their confusion, compassion shows me that someone experiencing confusion needs patience and ongoing faith in their ability to rise out of it. I’m learning that when someone is confused, logical arguments are not the way to reach them. Confusion is like a cloud of dust, and waving my arms around in the dust doesn’t clear it up. My arguments can actually add to the confusion.

But getting out of the way, letting the dust settle, is a more compassionate approach. Giving a person breathing space, trusting that they are connected to the Divine as much as I am and don’t need me to show them the way, gives me the humility I need to be a genuine help.

And you know, there’s plenty I’m still confused about myself. I know compassion and support help me more than arguments or reasoning. I know the balm of hearing the trust and faith in me in another’s voice. I know the unqualified support that they show brings at least my face up out of the dust, and I can see more clearly.

So basically, I just need to remember: do unto others in the way it’s worked for you. Compassion. Practice it.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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