Compassion or No One’s Playing with a Full Deck

From when I was quite young, I stayed stressed night and day over the possibility of being scolded for anything. Unfortunately, even if a fellow student was scolded, I also hurt for them, literally. My stomach would ache.  As an adult when a friend was going through a painful divorce, it seemed almost like I was going through it myself. In many ways this made me compassionate and I tried always to relieve others’ suffering in any way I could.

But, my life became controlled by an underlying need to relieve suffering of any kind, my own, my friends’, the world’s. This sounds like a good thing, and at times it undoubtedly was. But suffering is an inevitable part of life, everyone’s life. And a lot of suffering is self inflicted and perpetuated by attempts to escape it, rather than experience it and learn and grow from it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Compassion and fear of our own suffering may be two sides of the same coin.

Over the years I learned that I could not protect my children from suffering. And after a couple of friends, that I tried to give emotional support, ended up committing suicide, I gradually accepted that I am not God and cannot control life for anyone.

Eventually, I also recognized that some people become addicted to being victims and are bottomless pits of needs and wants that no one but God can fill.  I can be kind. I can share insights I’ve gained through my own struggles. I can bring a little laughter into the lives around me. But ultimately, each person’s journey is uniquely tailored to the process of making them into the people God created them to be…no more and no less. We can all only play the hand we were dealt and no one other than God can judge how well we are doing that.
Each person is born with their own set of genetic strengths and virtues. The thing we often overlook is that each strength has a corresponding area of weakness. Our pattern of growth will build on the strengths, but also will involve facing our weaknesses and allowing for them. We can develop survival skills in those areas, but they will never be our gifts.
That means we need one another. That means at times we must set aside our strengths and avail ourselves of the opposite set of gifts of other people. This is a dying to self of sorts. It involves suffering and humility. Not an easy task, but definitely part of becoming a couple, a family, a friend, a community, a nation, a world.

In other words, none of us is playing with a full deck! And we can help one another in partnerships, but not in dependency relationships that keep us from growing.

Compassion calls for not only kindness, but the capacity to accept suffering as part of our own lives and of life in general for everyone.
It comes down to the age old prayer: God help me to change what I can, accept what I can’t change and the wisdom to know the difference.

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About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of eleven, great-grandmother of seven, 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator; Presently part time Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper for Architect husband of fifty-seven years. Blog: Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Posted on December 31, 2014, in Addictions, B4Peace, Decision Making, evolving, Gifts of Age, Healing, Love, Mental Health, Parenting, Personality, Resurrection, spirituality, Suffering, Teaching/Learning Experiences and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I can’t believe we’re still on the same wave link, i.e. struggling with letting go and letting God –
    No wonder we became friends 60 years ago and no wonder I miss our chats so much. Your wonderful blog will have to do. I don’t respond as often as I’d like, but I’m with you, dear sister. I read once that we’re like wine. God keeps pouring us from one bottle to the next and we always yell and protest. but each time we’re poured, we leave some of our “sediment” behind, until we become totally clear and pure. I doubt that will happen to me in this life, but I’m hanging in there, squirming and twisting until I’m finally comfortable. And then God says “It’s time to move on. It’s time for a square bottle” and off I go. At least I know I’m not alone. Nice to have someone to squirm with.

  2. Love you, Myra. I thank God for you. We really are twins separated at birth! 🙂

  3. I’ve always said our strength is our weakness. Pastor Tim Keller speaks of the dark side of our gifts. It’s the part that needs redeeming.

  4. Reblogged this on Laughter: Carbonated Grace and commented:

    I was reflecting on free will this morning and came across this past blog. It lays some ground work for looking at just how free anyone’s will is. I’m re-posting it as a beginning of some posts on free will.

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