Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When Does Compassion End?

When do we decide to withhold compassion? Where is the line I wonder and what is the tipping point? How do we go about deciding who deserves our compassion and for how long?

Last week I read Gregory Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart, the Power of Boundless Compassion. This is perhaps the most beautiful book I’ve ever read. Gregory Boyle shows us how to love and just never stop. Here are a few quotes:

“The strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but rather in standing in the right place - with the outcast and those relegated to the margins.”

“Compassion is always, at its most authentic, about a shift from the cramped world of self-preoccupation into a more expansive place of fellowship, of true kinship.”

“Meeting the world with a loving heart will determine what we find there.”

“Sooner or later, we all discover that kindness is the only strength there is.”

This week as I’ve watched the sadness and loss and tragedy unfold in Ferguson, Missouri, I have been asking myself to feel compassion - to deep inside myself care - for everyone involved. All sides. I have not lived their lives. I cannot say what I would do in their shoes - not Michael Brown’s shoes, not the police officer’s shoes. Not their mothers’ shoes. Not the protestors' shoes. I have lived my life and have my own experiences, and it is this life and these experiences that influence each decision I make every day. Each action I take is a reflection of my past and who I have decided I will be today.

I hope I grow into a place that loves more and judges never. I hope I grow into a place that sees the world and all its brokenness and instead of blaming, shares the blame and sees the sadness and doesn’t look away.

Gregory Boyle writes, “Close both eyes; see with the other one. Then, we are no longer saddled by the burden of our persistent judgments, our ceaseless withholding, our constant exclusion. Our sphere has widened, and we find ourselves, quite unexpectedly, in a new, expansive location, in a place of endless acceptance and infinite love. We’ve wandered into God’s own ‘jurisdiction.’"

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