Compassion really is an invaluable lesson. I am not learning it only by what I am going through and recognizing how these things feel first hand, but also by seeing how it is modeled to me by loving friends. It is also an unfortunate side effect, that we see what not to do or not to say modeled to us. I mean, no one can expect everyone to do the right or helpful thing all of the time. And I am sure that years from now, someone will be in a circumstance very like my current one and I will manage to say a hurtful thing or even just neglect them in some way. (Sin stinks!) But I guess my point is something along the lines of what my RUF campus minister told me once (the one I worked for, not the one whose ministry I was part of at Auburn), "what we do in the hardest situations shows us who we really are." Now, I don't entirely agree with that. I mean, I think we can find a strength or courage or faith we didn't know we had, but I don't think our failings under extreme stress mean that all we are is that sin or flaw. If your life is such that you find yourself more disorganized and anxious than usual, does that make you a definitively disorganized and anxious person? What a crappy way to look at people! On the other hand, I think the way people respond to you when you are under stress shows something about them as well. I have seen amazing generosity, patience, compassion, thoughtfulness, and love that I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to see apart from my crazy situation right now. What a blessing to see people's gifts really shine, and to grow in friendship as a side effect of suffering! In the same way, when one's good friend or family member is in the fight of their life and he does nothing, or worse, judges or makes demands, does this not also say something about the relationship, at the very least, or even about the person himself?
It's all very revealing. And I regret that I have not been more active in seeking to encourage or aid the broken hearted in the past. And I thank those of you who have actively sought to encourage me- I hope you know that you have done so. It occurs to me that I may not have been expressive enough of my gratitude either (because ugh, I am the worst thank you note writer ever!- though I do realize there are other ways to express appreciation). I am reading a book about friendship right now which has me really reflecting on these things more- well, the book and the mouse invasion that brought me to angry and exhausted tears- and I may have some more to say about all of this (unless you use the comments section of this post as a petition against such). But for today, I am just grateful for friends; and I am inspired to be a better one.