Once we have experienced heartache and distress in our lives, compassion becomes an emotion that we are able to extend naturally. I recall a time when I had car trouble and someone stopped to offer assistance. My battery was dead and I needed a jump, but I had left my cables in my wife’s car. Having someone come to my rescue awakened gratefulness and a desire to offer help to someone else that was stranded. It wasn’t long before I came upon a fellow motorist parked alongside the road with their emergency lights flashing. Compassion rose inside my heart and I pulled over to help.
This example is simple, but the real value of compassion is learned when we have gone through much more difficult times other than a dead battery. When we are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness; when our marriage ends; when one of our children struggles with their sexuality—or when we do—compassion then becomes a valuable and loving emotion. When we have been through a trial by fire, we are less likely to judge another, especially if we will take the time to listen to our hearts.
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