As a young child, I heard my mom ask me that question quite often. It was her way of teaching me to think beyond myself, to try to understand the perspective of others, and then to recognize how my actions might be interpreted by others. Through her question, I learned to share my toys, say "please" and "thank you," and to cover my mouth when I sneezed.
Mom didn't just question me, though; she taught through example.
I remember Mom providing transportation and moral support to a friend whose daughter was in the burn unit of the hospital. I remember Mom babysitting another friend's severely disabled baby so the friend could have an hour or two of respite. I remember Mom comforting a friend whose child was diagnosed with leukemia. I remember Mom talking on the phone, providing a listening ear to anyone who needed it.
I also remember driving with Mom to the one-story building that housed the old folks. Mom went there often, not out of duty, but out of compassion. She wasn't related to the woman she visited, and she hadn't known her in her younger years. She visited because she thought to herself, "How would I feel?"
The woman Mom chose to visit on a regular basis was not some sweet little old lady who greeted Mom with a smile and a twinkle in her eye. On the contrary, Mom visited a woman who spent her days in bed moaning and screaming incoherently. Mom would go into her room, carry on a one-way conversation for 15 or 20 minutes, then leave with a promise to return again soon. This ritual continued unchanged for months, until that one day.
Mom had gone into the room as usual, and had been greeted as usual with the wailing of this woman's cries. Mom cheerfully spoke over the screams. Suddenly, the old lady grew quiet--and then she spoke!
"I love you!" she declared.
And then, as quickly as the moment came, it passed. Mom was blessed to receive verbal confirmation that her visits were meaningful to that dear woman. Even if she hadn't heard those words, though, Mom knew that her compassionate visits brought peace to both the giver and the receiver.
Mom continues to exhibit compassion now, as she manages the care of her 100-year-old mother. Through regular communication with the staff of the nursing center, and frequent visits, she assures that my grandma's needs are met and that she is comfortable.
|Photo: Mom talks with Grandma at Grandma's 100th birthday party|
In the New Testament, we read in Matthew 25:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Those who helped others showed compassion. They answered the question, "How would you feel?" and then followed that with action.
Of course, Jesus Christ was the perfect exemplar of compassion. His entire life was a life of service to others, done out of love. He healed the blind and lame. He cried with those who mourned. He forgave those who sinned. He fed the hungry. He willingly atoned for the entire world, giving all the opportunity to return to our Father's presence.
This Easter season is a perfect time to learn more about Jesus Christ and His example. Beginning one week from today, on March 31st, a new Easter campaign, #PrinceofPeace, will go live on comeuntoChrist.org . It will focus on several principles, including compassion, which guided Jesus Christ's life, and how those principles can bring peace.
I'm thankful for Jesus' example, for my mom's gentle question, "How would you feel?" and for her compassionate nature.
What examples of compassion have you noticed? I'd love to hear your stories!