A dog turned up at our neighbor's farm a year after my father died. He was a mutt that looked like he was part german shepherd. His rib cages were clearly visible, showing the lack of food and proper nourishment. As with any stray dogs we were weary of him however the dog showed a lot of playfulness. After some discussion my mother decided that I could keep him. I named him Rusty. Rusty immediately became my world and we did everything together. I would get off the bus from school and he would be waiting for me. Everyday we ran, played fetch, and explored the countryside. Rusty made me feel loved and cared for.
A few months after, I got home from school expecting to see Rusty waiting for me, but he was nowhere to be found. Instead I saw my mother with tears in her eyes. She hugged me and told me Rusty had died. She explained how Rusty was hit while he excitedly ran beside a passing truck. I sobbed and held onto my mother tighter once the news sank in. I kept thinking how Rusty would never run with me again. We walked around the house finding him laying on the ground, unmoving. I noticed blood on his side where his thin rib cages used to be just months before. Again I cried for the loss of my friend and the best dog I ever had.
It was years later, when I found out a different part of the story. My mother had actually found Rusty while I was still at school. She remembers crying profusely because she knew how upset I would be. She knew I would be hurt and there was nothing she could do about it. It was in that instance where I understood what true compassion is. Compassion is caring about the concerns and sufferings of others. When we truly care about others we have compassion for them.
I find this relates to our spiritual lives because caring about the human spirit is the root of spirituality. It's not just our own human spirit but those around us. When we look at finding ourselves or our communities its about finding relationships with reciprocating compassion.
Jesus was the ultimate model of compassion. He looked past what was happening in the moment to really grasp what individuals need. Much of Jesus healings took place after Jesus was filled with compassion. He cared for these individuals and the circumstances their lives where in.
Just as Jesus, we can model compassion everyday in the interactions we have with others. One way to do this is to understand how your tone of voice, cadence, body language, and facial expressions can impact communication. Sometimes we are incongruent with our messages. When this happens people begin to guess whether what you said is really what you meant. Modeling compassion means our whole presence needs to match our verbal message. This something I struggle with and continue to work on daily. But when we truly show compassion with all of our presence we our taking after Jesus.
I'll Pray For You
Many times when others are hurting we say, "I'll pray for you." That's great prayer really does wonders and I believe it is important. But I think we have to ask ourselves is that all this person needs at this moment? Can we provide anything else to them during this difficult time that might put them at ease? When my father died our house became a jungle because of all the plants we received. There were so many that I could hide behind them and move throughout the house in complete camouflage. It was thoughtful to receive them but what my mother felt was most helpful was the gift of stamps given by a friend. The person knew my mother would send thank you's notes. It was the extra thoughtfulness that made the biggest impact.
One important part of the story above is my mother was there and supported me during a terrible incident. Sometimes we would rather go the other direction when bad things happen wanting nothing to do with it. But being part of a community calls us to stick it out through the muddy waters others find themselves in. Just like Cleveland Browns fans throughout what seems like forever since they have been good.
No matter what our records have been a community is there for you. They tell you the bad news, they embrace you, and they continue to support you days afterwards. So be filled with compassion and give that compassion to those around you.
What pet has meant the world to you?
When have you been filled with compassion?
Who has modeled compassion for you?
Who has stuck it out with you?
What community would be there for you?
I sincerely hope all of you have had a pet that has meant a lot for you! This week use your presence to be there for someone else. Give them compassion, love, and support.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.