How to Show Intentional Compassion
(According to "Mr. Jesus")
Can compassion be taught? I believe that after hearing this story, you will know it can.
It's not always easy to show kindness and understanding, especially when we're confronted with someone who is different from us in some way. But these qualities make a person good at their job or excellent company for friends - anyone they meet!
"Compassion has the power to build bridges between people that lead them all towards happiness together."
Jonathan Safran Foer
I know it's not something that you're keen on doing anytime soon. But let me ask you this - have you ever tried to board a plane with your child in tow and failed miserably at calming them down? Yeah, haven't we all! It's the worst, right?
Travel can be pretty frustrating for any mom out there who wants peace of mind when boarding an aeroplane. They would like to know they'll get through security without much hassle because their kids are flat-out exhausted from hours worth of waiting around before being able to go onto the plane.
After every long trip my family takes together (and let’s say even after short ones!), everyone is invariably exhausted — flights can take their toll on both adults and kids alike! Despite all of our many efforts at distraction during takeoff/landing.
Now, this doesn't happen ALL the time or to every mom, but I don't think you'd hear one woman who would raise their hand and volunteer to do this.
I saw this mother at the airport with her two children. The three-year-old was kicking and crying on one arm, while the four-year-old began wailing loudly in hunger too! I think everyone in their seats prayed they were not headed to sit beside them because that would be a nightmare for anyone trying to rest or get some peace and quiet during their flight.
*cue scary organ music here*
Let me tell you about the guy who 'lost.'
However, this man didn't roll his eyes or groan, try to find another seat, or spend the whole time making unnecessary trips to the bathroom. Instead, this dude, let's call him "Mr Jesus," offered to hold the baby while she got her kid buckled in, and then he coloured with said toddler for the entire trip!
Because of this man's generosity of his plane-time, it allowed HER the longer minutes to feed her infant while her toddler was conversing animatedly with Mr Jesus - who answered EVERY comment. See why I named him that? ;)
"So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith."
Galatians 6:10, MSG
Some might say she was lucky. She could have been seated next to anyone of us losers who was internally wishing for sleep aids and earplugs, right?
In 2 Samuel 9, we read of another example of sacrificial and intentional compassion. King Saul and his heir, Jonathan - murdered in battle. Some assumed David would kill off any rival for his place on the thrown.
Instead, in verse 3, this is what David asked: "Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?"
I mean ... right?
Mephibosheth (I know - say that three times fast), Jonathan's son, was then brought to David, who knew how to be a compassionate person. He immediately changed that boy's heritage from Saul's family to his own. He sympathetically and affectionately invited him to "share his table" - just as if he were his kid.
You may know I have two adopted sons. I am not telling you this to say I'm anything like king David, the best example of compassion. I struggle with any mom's challenges when kids live under her roof, even when they aren't my fruit. It challenges me ALL. THE. TIME.
However, my dear husband (aptly named David) is a master of grace and patience. Even when things are hitting 'rock bottom,' he takes every possibility to show intentional kindness toward our sons. Not that I don't! He does it WAY better and takes every opportunity. ;-)
Being trapped in a plane is not TOO unlike what we are dealing with right now. Except the plane is our living room, and there is no kind stranger to occupy our children while we manage our house. There are television and PlayStation or X-box or several other "screen savers." And these things are beneficial sometimes! But not ALL times.
I believe compassion will make you beautiful. As an heiress of the limitless mercy of God, I am challenging myself to watch for those opportunities to show intentional kindness too. For it is through God's kindness, He woos us back into a relationship with Him.
Let's hear that again...
If You are for us
Who can be against us
You gave us everything
even Your only Son
It's your kindness that leads us
To repentance Oh Lord
Knowing that You love us
No matter what we do
It makes us want to love You too
How about you? In these days of uncertainty, it is pretty satisfying to remember why compassion is so important and how intentional kindness can change the world. You have been challenged to find out if it can be taught, consider what compassion means to you and live out compassion in action.
We all want children to learn to be kind, and we even spend an excessive amount of time with a reoccurring “Be kind!” to toddlers who may not have any clue what we are saying. Being kind to one another is essential. Many children grow kindness and compassion naturally, but teaching kindness to kids is nevertheless important and oh-so-worthwhile.
After all, it was HIS kindness that brought you to repentance. YOUR intentional kindness to the children in your care can make a world of difference in their own lives as they grow into compassionate adults. It just may be YOUR kindness that brings them to know Him someday.
And you don't have to get on a plane to do it. ;-)