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.’"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Holding on and Letting Go

Ten years ago I was watching my 15 and 10 year old children race towards adulthood and life away from me. And I was terrified. I thought about my son and my daughter living their lives outside of my protection, and my imagination would run wild with fear. I thought of my own life without their constant presence, and it was impossible for me to see how that life could ever be good and full of joy. I had made them my security blanket, and I was holding on with both hands. 

Parenting requires such sameness and yet such fluidity. You must be always constant and yet ever able to change and grow along with your children. 

Growing into relationship with your adult children means remaining who you are and yet daily becoming a more grown up version of yourself. I recognized that if I wanted to maintain the close bond we shared, I was going to have to grow up right along with them. 

When Caleb turned 13 I remember going into his bedroom and saying, "Caleb, your dad and I have never been parents of a teenager before. We're going to mess it up. We're going to forget you’re not a little boy, and  we’re going to hold on too tightly sometimes. But we love you so much and we're doing our best. Please be patient with us."  

Be okay with being wrong as a parent. Be quick to apologize, because, honestly, we know when we've messed it up and hurt our children. Our children don't think we're perfect anyway, and it is only by being honest with them and humble enough to admit our mistakes that we keep their respect.

Be okay with your children choosing a path different from your own. I began to realize if I wanted my children to enjoy spending time with me, I must let them be who they are. And not only that but love who they are. I don't need to enjoy everything they enjoy, but I need to be okay with our differences. 

In our insecurities we often think if others don't like what we like, then our way of living is not the right way. It's why so often we become friends only with those who mirror us, because being with people who believe everything we believe, makes us feel we're doing it right. If our children grow up to have different likes or dislikes or lifestyles or beliefs, it can make us feel the life we have chosen is wrong. We need to get to a place where we are secure in who we are, so we can let our children be who they are. 

Authentic love and joy is found in knowing who we are.