Something I’ve been trying to teach my kids and practice myself is to look outside our own immediate wants, needs, and circumstances and have compassion and concern for the wants, needs, and circumstances of others. This is difficult to do because our own perspectives are ever before us. I will often say, “Wow, that girl is super mean,” or “That guy is always grumpy,” or “That lady brags about everything.” But, I rarely step outside myself to seek compassion. Perhaps, that girl is mean because people in her life have been mean to her. She has rarely been modeled genuine kindness, so she responds in the ways she has learned from others. Perhaps that guy is grumpy because he has chronic back pain that keeps him on edge and never gives him relief. Perhaps that woman brags because she has never been told how much she is valued and loved. So, she feels she must praise herself to find self-worth.
One of the biggest lessons the Lord gave me in looking outside myself was a little over 11 years ago when Luke was deployed to Iraq. The night before he left home, we decided to take a walk on the greenbelt. We strolled hand in hand along the Boise River with so many fears in our heads and such great sorrow on our hearts. As we walked, we passed several people—other couples, an older woman walking a dog, a man on his bike, and a girl with headphones. Some looked at us and smiled; others walked or rode by keeping focused on the path ahead of them. Luke said, “Isn’t it strange that these people have no idea what is going on in our life—that I will be deployed tomorrow, that we will be apart for nearly a year, or that this will be the last time for a long time that we can make this walk together?”
Over the years, as we have thought back on that walk, we have grown in compassion for those we walk past or interact with. We remember each one has a life and a story full of burdens and joys we know nothing about. And although we don’t always know what lies behind or ahead of them, we have a God who does and who has placed us in their path. So, we ask the Lord to help us smile at people more, to say hello and engage in conversations, to pray for them , and to show us ways we can encourage, support, or love them. HERE is a story that went viral of a soldier who did the same. I hope we can remember, as Col. Usrey says in the video, that, “Every single day we're all given opportunities if we just slow down and just help somebody."
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14).