Tag Archives: compassion

Focus on the Bricks, Not the House

Focus on the Bricks, Not the House

March 17, 2018

In a recent conversation with friends, someone said, “I don’t know how to keep my loved ones from making poor choices.” I took a deep breath and responded, “Focus on the bricks, not the house.”

She stared at me quizzically with the she-has-finally-gone-mad-WTF-did-that-mean look that friends are allowed to dispense to another.

I grinned warmly and explained. Scripting the lives and outcomes of others is neither your calling nor your place. Whether it’s hoping that a family member comes to faith, a friend gives up an unhealthy relationship, a spouse moves past an addiction or a child avoids tough pitfalls, you cannot map out their entire life. You are not building their house, they are.

Instead, you can lay down individual bricks. Each one is an act of love, compassion, respect, comfort, moral fortitude, wisdom . . . bricks that offer a path, if they choose to walk with you. Bricks that they can choose to use in the foundation of their own spiritual house.

If those poor choices lead to harmful behaviors, thoughtfully guide them to seek professional help. But, in most cases, you cannot force them. We each have free will and use it as we will.

Remember to place bricks gently. The most well-intentioned among us, myself included, can desire happiness for our loved ones to such a degree that we may slip into figuratively tossing the bricks at them. That breaks windows in their house and can leave bruised feelings.

Just like you might see at the entrance to a monument or museum, write a little hopeful note on the brick in your mind, like “I pray for your peace and fulfillment” as you graciously offer it. That kind of loving mortar builds a lasting connection.

Bold Year Ahead and Values for World Needs Hope

Word of the Year

December 30, 2017

One of my best friends loves to have a power word for each coming year. She agonizes over it, journals about it and, after months of contemplation, embraces it with immense gusto. And I love the anticipation of being one of the first to hear her linguistic verdict. I devour it, examine it, applaud it and marvel at her.

She will sagely tell you that “release” is not a word you want to choose and that “fear” has surprisingly positive, albeit uncomfortable, outcomes. She’s a gem, an inspiration and a quirky curiosity. I love the process and her.

If you are a long-time reader, you will know that I pluck a word at the last minute and stand by it all year. That process is quintessentially me. My word feels instantly woven into my coat pocket, cinched around my wrist and stitched onto my heart. What is this new year’s word, you ask? I honestly don’t know yet. It comes like a surprise blast of confetti between December 31 and January 1, when it’s ready to knock my holiday trimmed socks off.

When I began thinking about my friend’s word dilemma a few weeks ago, I briefly entertained my own introspection. But it was fleeting. What did happen, instead, was profound internal banter about my core values for The World Needs Hope. Here they are for transparency, so that you know what I stand for (if you’re new here) and what I embody as we move into 2018:

  1. Honor Individuals (respect)
  2. Give Empathy (compassion)
  3. Lighten Lives (joy)
  4. Share Hope (renewal)

You matter. Your story matters. Your soul matters. Your journey forward matters.

If you choose a word of your own for 2018, please share below! I’ll do the same, once it makes itself known.

Notes to My Sisters

January 19, 2017

Spiritual sisters, career sisters, traveling sisters, biological sisters, sisters I have yet to meet . . . to the ladies I love, respect, appreciate and admire, I have a few words for you.

Deepest gratitude for the off-hours texts and just-because calls. You never cease to amaze me with your heart, your wit and your ways of knowing where my heart drifts. Every prayer and every sweet hug are fathomless in my book of life.

Never, ever, ever give anyone the power to degrade you. Your joy, your trajectory and your very breath are for you and the Lord to command. Knock down the harsh words, judgmental stares and doubting intentions that may mar your path. Sweep it away swiftly.

Embrace your roots, smile forward and be present now. The past is a lingering lesson not a tether. The future is a glimmer of hope not a destination. Now is your gift and everything it should be. Love it, celebrate it, learn it and sink into it fully.

Resist measurement. Your eyes will break you down, piece by piece. Your worries will hold you captive. Your presumed obligations and expectations will throw you off balance. Accept the glory of you and the gift of exactly how you are wired, created and forged in faith.

Laugh as much as your cheeks and belly allow. Humor is grace let out. It lightens heavy burdens. It quells arguments. It puts thoughts into perspective. When paired with compassion, childlike curiosity and bubbly effervescence, it is the answer to oogley moments.

I welcome your wisdom below in the comments. May hope, love and light be yours today!

Burn No More

December 3, 2014

I’m heartbroken over the senseless and unending “news” coverage about Ferguson. Shame on you media mongers for hiding behind free speech with your contempt, malicious ways and ill motives. May God have mercy on you.

I’m heartbroken for the grieving family who tragically lost their son, for the officer and his family, for the townspeople who lost homes and businesses to a wave of fiery rage, for the staggeringly high intraracial violence that occurs every day, and for those who would let perceived injustice fuel the flames of hatred and looting and pain and hurt on others.

1 John 2:9-11 NIV
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

Burn no more in your souls. Burn no more with words that act like accelerants. Burn no more into the cameras or crowds to cultivate harm. Burn no more for attention’s sake. Burn no more with selfish anger. Burn no more into the hearts of impressionable children. Burn no more to feed the gangs and thieves.

May healing begin. May grace fall on every spirit. May wisdom prevail. May compassion take root. May we all learn how to love again.

John 16:33 NIV
“‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'”

I pray this, Jesus. Amen.

Reciprocal Compassion

April 3, 2014

I was scrolling my social media feed this morning and saw a post by one of the special needs organizations I follow. Unlike some of the images I have seen from them before, they were poking fun at how individuals outside the autism community ask questions that they feel are ignorant. I had to pause. Three things unsettled me:

  1. This organization’s mission is acceptance, yet the tone of the post was exclusionary.
  2. The page asks the world to be more understanding of disorders, yet they were criticizing someone for asking a question and also implying a level of ignorance in the asker.
  3. The group often celebrates individuality and touts open-mindedness, yet they were so quick to set up an us (we get it) vs. them (they don’t get it) scenario.

My only thought is . . . such a pity. Compassion is meant to be unconditional. That means that despite misunderstanding, difference or even naiveté, we are called to respond with tolerance.

As I have said before, tolerance is not setting yourself up to be a silent punching bag. However, it is definitely not compassionate to respond to people with something akin to, “Duh, I can’t believe you didn’t know that. How stupid are you?”

Instead of assuming, which gets everyone into trouble, try reaching out with love. For instance, here are some questions you can ask when you feel compelled to strike out to justify your position or retaliate with a snarky comment:

  • What was my interpretation of their view? Our reactions (e.g., wow that was silly, I can’t believe they said that, what a mean statement) are based on life-conditioned interpretations and it is important to recognize our own patterns. The trick is then to wipe away your emotional bias and see the statement as if it were on a page.
  • How can I see this person with loving eyes? Even when someone hurts us unknowingly, we tend to strike out to combat the pain. Before you act, think of what you could do to stop that wicked cycle in its tracks. Try looking at this individual as if they were a child and imagining how adorable, precocious, goofy or vulnerable they would be. Our adult selves are not far from those children.
  • What can you do to improve their understanding? Tolerance begins with you. Instead of assuming someone is ignorant or despicable, consider that they simply may not have good information and may be feeling awkward about the topic. Try humbling yourself, validating the individual and offering help, “That is one way to see it. Would you like to know more about what makes my child so amazing?”

Not everyone will be open, comfortable, ready or capable of accepting your compassion. That does not mean you should not offer it. More so, instead of the hurtful cycle of reciprocal criticism, you can shift into sparking cycles of reciprocal compassion. Imagine opening the eyes, minds and hearts of others . . . that’s a hopeful gift you can give the world.

One final thought. If you carry the burden of angry victim, you will be setting up a courtroom of judgment in your mind. In that room, you may play the role of judge (presiding), the prosecutor (accusing), the court reporter (rehashing), the bailiff (barricading) and the jury (dwelling). If you play all or even one, imagine the diverted energy you are investing.

Let go of the need to make the world see it your way or walk in your shoes. Each soul is busy enough just trying to walk in their own. The best you can do is enlighten with respect, respond with gentleness and offer abundant compassion.