Saturday, August 16, 2014

Compassion and grace...

It's been an emotional week.

In the BIG world there was Nascar tragedy and the death of Robin Williams; while here in my little world I've been living in the midst of kids and recovering from vacation and trying to parent with grace rather than out of fear or disappointment.

Just when I think I have a handle on this parenting thing, God shows me I'm wrong.  I wonder if I disappointed my parents as much as my kids have disappointed me lately? And worse, I wonder if I disappoint my Heavenly Father as much?

It's been a crazy week.  Last Sunday morning before church, we heard about the accident involving Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward.
I'm not a Nascar fan, but I just felt terrible.  I knew that regardless of the specifics, assigning blame or not, Tony Stewart would never be the same.

I can't say I've been in his shoes exactly, but I know someone who had a similar experience.  Probably more than one "someone," actually.
And if God gave me anything in the gift department, one of them was definitely compassion: the ability to put myself in someone else's situation and imagine how it would feel.

As a child, it was how I could make myself cry on demand.  I would just think of the last bad thing I had heard about, put myself in the shoes of the person it happened to and let the tears come on their own.  It's kind of funny, but isn't that what a lot of actors wish they could do? Cry on demand? I did actually want to be a stage actress at one point.  I'm straying...

By the time we left church last Sunday, the whole Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward debate was so out of control! I have my opinion, and I contemplated writing about it several times this past week, but I'm going to keep my opinion to myself.
What I can say is this, my compassionate nature makes me feel for both families affected by that accident and my prayers have included them many times in the last 6 days.

On Monday, when I saw the news on Facebook that Robin Williams had died of an apparent suicide, I was immediately beside myself with grief and shock.

I didn't know him personally.  I never met him or shook his hand.  As far as I know, I was never within a thousand mile radius of Robin Williams.
Yet, Monday evening, the tremendous sadness I felt was akin to that of losing a close friend or family member.  I felt like I knew him.

But I didn't.  
Not only did I not know him, I had no idea that he'd been living with depression and bi-polar disorder.  I would never have guessed his clowning and comedy might have been a cover-up for his own intense sadness. It really made me wonder who of the people I DO know maybe aren't alright? Do I have friends or family members who cover their sadness or grief with joking and wise cracks? 

I've done it before. Sometimes reality just feels too painful.  Sometimes I just want to be someone else - anyone else - but myself.  I don't feel that way today and, thank God, I haven't felt that way in a long time, but I do know how it feels to feel that way.  
And in all my compassionate moments and empathetic instincts, I don't think I have ever confided those feelings to anyone or helped someone through similar feelings.

As I thought deeply about this during the week, I came to the conclusion that it's just another sad fact of our society: we are selfish.  I am selfish.

Even in my desire to help others and to be compassionate, merciful, and grace-giving to others, sometimes I can't see past myself and my own issues long enough to realize someone else is hurting.  And that stinks, because I don't want to be that way. I don't want to miss something important.

I watched a movie tonight.  It wasn't especially good, really, but the underlying message was.  We spend so much time trying to find the perfect spouse - relationship - child - school - job - life - version of ourselves, that we miss out on so much.  We miss out on the here and now.  We miss out on what we already have. The what's-going-on-around-us instead of the past we want to bury and the future that we so fear.

And I don't want to be like that! Do you? 
Do you want to look back, or worse yet, have your kids look back on your life, and remember that you were never present? Never here and able to enjoy just being and breathing and loving?

One of the examples of this that comes to mind for me is pictures.  I have kids {and some other relatives} that LOVE to take pictures.  I mean, really, it's unnatural how much they love to take pictures of people. 
Pictures of me.  
In my pjs.  
With no makeup on and messy hair.

And when it's happening it's easy to get upset and wonder what in the world are they thinking??!! 
But then I realize, do I want my kids to grow up and look at old pictures and see that Mom isn't in any of them? Because she deleted them all? Because she thought they were unflattering?

Of course not! My kids just see their Mom.  They don't differentiate between done-up Mom and just-woke-up Mom.  I'm just Mom.
And they want and need pictures of "just Mom."

This is all a bunch of emotional rambling, I know.  But if one good thing came out of the hardship of this week, it's that I want to focus more on the NOW and less on the THEN.  I don't want to miss out. I don't want to miss the signs if a friend or family member is hurting.  I don't want to miss time with my kids because I'm too stressed over the next "big" thing.
I want to live.  I want to love.  I want to laugh.  And I want to help others do the same. With compassion and grace.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. Psalm 145:8

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