THINKING AND ACTING COMPASSIONATELY
Replace Non-Compassionate thoughts with Compassionate Ones. Compassionate acting begins with compassionate thinking. If you have non-compassionate thoughts about someone or a group of people, they are likely to take root and show up in what you say and do towards them. Take the time to replace non-compassionate thoughts with compassionate ones. Recognize them and be intentional about thinking compassionately, so that compassionate actions will come from you.
Look again. It’s fascinating to consider the etymology of the word “RESPECT.” RE = to do again. SPECT = to see or to look. When we truly RE-SPECT a person, we keep looking until we honor them as a human being who is created and loved by Jesus Christ our Lord. We look again if we’ve imagined something untrue or judged based on our own perception. We look again if our first look was based in criticism. We keep looking until we see a person to serve, not to condemn. Then, we look at ourselves, clearly, and recognize that we are all broken. My flaws won’t disappear if I focus on criticising others. So, I should keep looking again until I look upon every person and love them.
Never “us” and “them”. Sometimes we separate ourselves from people because we don’t understand them. It’s easy to draw lines when someone’s experience confuses us. If you say “those people over there” about anyone, take some time to think about why. Is it because you think they are wrong? harmful? different? These are common reasons that mask what’s really happening. Most of the time when we allow ourselves to be divided from people we don’t know or understand, it’s because we are afraid to have more knowledge or awareness. Maybe our own bubble we live in will pop and we don’t think we can handle what that means. Whatever the reason, we should do what we can to make God’s ideal for the world a reality. If all are one in Christ, then we all belong to each other.
Think instead of judging. When a person or group of people seem to be making a lot of noise, our response may be to cover our ears. What’s more beneficial, although more difficult, is to take the time to listen and learn. Learning through the lens of someone else who is unfamiliar to you is incredibly formative and builds community. When we judge, we take a liberty that isn’t ours. When we think, we create an opportunity to become our true selves. We become friends and peacemakers when we are thoughtful about what and who we’ve seen. Next time you default to judging, pause and rewind. When you become a thinker, you can let go of being a judge.
Instead of rolling your eyes, open them. Look closely instead of looking down on others. A life of compassion asks questions and listens to stories. Practice compassionate thinking and pursue compassionate living.