I’m not naturally a compassionate person. I’m not. If you think I am, then I’ve either managed to put on a good front–or, better yet, maybe I’m improving in the compassion department (because I’m really trying!). I remember one time during high school years when all my sisters were sick with the flu while we were traveling. I had no sympathy for them. But, the truth that “you reap what you sow” came back to haunt me when I caught the flu myself, and it was even worse than what my sisters had. Over the years I’ve realized how self-centered I am when it comes to helping those who are hurting or sick. Sometimes it’s not that I mean to be un-compassionate (I think I just made up that word), it’s just that I’m so self-centered, it doesn’t even cross my mind to reach out in sympathy and help. That’s pretty immature–to say the least! I still look back with shame and regret on one particular time in college when I thought about myself the entire time a friend was going through the sudden loss of an immediate family member. Compassion is a character trait I’ve been working on growing in my own heart, with the help of my patient Father.
This most recent gall bladder episode has given me a front row seat in “Compassion Class.” I’m pretty sure that’s at least one reason God saw fit to allow my gall bladder to stop functioning. Being so far away from family has been hard, but my loving church family and friends have stepped in and taken such good care of us! I’ve been able to see first-hand what compassion truly looks like. It looks like friends making meals for us–for the THIRD time, doing dishes, washing and folding laundry, rocking my baby to sleep, feeding and changing Silas, picking up needed items at the store,and the list goes on. Last week, Ryan and Jen gave up their entire Wednesday to take me to the hospital for some tests, feed and play with Silas while I slept, make lunch and supper for us, do housework, and help me survive the pain. They also kept Silas overnight for two nights so Stephen could give me his undivided attention immediately before, during, and after surgery. It’s so nice to have friends we can call anytime day or night!
Duane and Glenda came over one morning at 6:15am to make us breakfast, and they stayed most of the day to help me out. Glenda was there at the hospital for my surgery and stayed with me that afternoon since Stephen had to return to work. She even cleared her schedule for a whole week just so she’d be available to help me. Her willingness to see me at my worst and love me still is true friendship. So many others have reached out with prayer, encouragement, and help. One friend managed to send dinner to us via her husband while she herself was in the ER! I’m overwhelmed with everyone’s compassion, and I sincerely want to repay the favor and learn to show compassion to others.
Perhaps the most compassionate, self-sacrificing one of all has been my patient husband, Stephen Andrew. He has been my personal care-giver ever since last March when morning sickness became a daily reality. His cooking skills and housekeeping abilities have been utilized quite often during my pregnancy, postpartum, gall bladder attack, and surgery recovery days. I’m thankful for a man who gets up in the middle of the night to feed our son, helps me with lowly tasks like putting on my socks, washes dishes, sterilizes bottles, does laundry, and overall makes me feel loved. Silas and Stephen have developed a priceless bond during the days when I couldn’t lift Silas. I love to see my man loving my baby boy!
And so, this new year has begun with a vivid lesson in compassion. With God’s grace, I hope to be more thoughtful and kind to others who are in need. My hat goes off to my family and friends who struggle with chronic pain, fatigue, or illness. My heart has been stirred to pray for them more often now that I’ve suffered just a little of what they must go through on a daily basis.