Silently, Lauren hugged a sobbing Cindy as she contemplated what to say. Now that was the question: what to say? Cindy had just poured out her heart to her. All the hurts, struggles, hopes, and ugliness that had accumulated and chose this moment to burst. It was a mess. And that was okay, Lauren totally got messes (maybe because she’s been in a few herself), but as usual is was confusing. A confusing mess. Who had heard of such a thing?! Lauren smiled. But, back to the question. Lauren could definitely relate to most of it. Should she tell Cindy about her own experience in these things? Lauren didn’t want to only talk about herself though, she wanted Cindy to know that she cared about her and yet at the same time let her know that she really did understand Cindy and her struggles. But then there was the fact that she couldn’t quite relate to all of it. She honestly had not been in some of Cindy’s situations before. Lauren thought she could give sounds advice perhaps, but did she have the right since she hadn’t experienced those things personally before? And did Cindy even want ‘advice or did she just need a shoulder to cry into? Aggh!
- Get out a sheet of paper and write on the first line ‘Dear Cindy’. Then, compose a letter with what you would say to Cindy in this situation.
- So, while you are doing that, let me offer my thoughts on the subject. One of the hardest things about compassion is that it isn’t very clear cut. Should you speak? Should you help? Would this comfort them or embarrass them or offend them? And I have not clear cut answer to give you except this: pray Ask yourself what Jesus would do. Use discernment and wisdom (God’s, not ours), but if you are in doubt examine yourself. If your intentions are out of love then all you can simply do it your best and trust God to guide you if saying something or not saying something or doing something or not doing something or… well, you get the picture. Simply obey God. Seek His direction.
- Now, in the story, Lauren’s problem was having so many things she could say or do, but what if you have the opposite problem. You don’t have any answers. Than just say that! I have been heard saying many times, “I don’t have an answer, but I understand” or if I don’t understand, “I’m here for you”. It sounds cheesy maybe, but the wording doesn’t matter. What really matters is if you are sincere. Are you willing to choose to put yourself in someone else’s pain. As Katie Davis says, ‘to sit with them, and know’?
- One more point is that compassion is often inconvenient and messy! But does that mean you don’t show it or feel it or live it? Someone once said, “Sin is messy, so people are messy, get over it, and get a mop!”