Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's not contagious

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about "the cross", the trials we have in life, and who we can turn to.

Today, I want to mention that our crosses are generally not contagious. Unless I have an easily-communicable disease, and you spend a lot of time with me, and we don't practice good sanitation techniques, you are most likely not going to 'catch' the things I have to deal with - or vice versa. 

As an example of what I'm trying to say, when we see someone who is homeless, if we think, "That could be me," that thought might make us more compassionate; however, on the other hand, that thought could instead lead to fear that the same thing could happen to us, and fear sometimes turns into shunning or blaming. 

"That could be me", can lead to: "What if that happens to me?", which can lead to..."Well, that won't happen to me because I'm careful with my money. That person obviously wasn't careful with his money." Really? Do we know that? No, of course we don't know that. It just somehow makes us feel better to think it...like, whew, I don't have to worry about that kind of suffering. You know what? Probably we actually don't have to worry about that particular brand of suffering. But we can be compassionate. 

Or maybe it's an illness. Maybe we eat healthy and exercise, and maybe that person who is ill drinks too much and smokes. So, after all, it must be his own fault he's sick, right? So, now, I don't have to worry about getting that cross. But maybe it really wasn't anything he or she did (or didn't do). 

You see, the deal is that we don't have to worry about getting each cross we encounter on someone else's shoulders. I can be really and truly sorry for what someone has to suffer, without worrying that it might happen to me.

And then there's our perception of choice. Have you ever looked at all the people who wait at bus stops, instead of driving cars? Why do they stand out in the heat and the rain? It's possible that person has no other choice. Or it's also possible they make that choice so that they can spend their money on something else, maybe to get an education, or maybe they have spent the money helping family.  

Whatever the reason, it doesn't mean they enjoy it. Let's not rub it in by saying we 'couldn't do that!' And conversely, let's not ignore the fact that it's challenging for them, by reminding them of all the money they save on car repairs, or some other way in which it's really "a blessing in disguise". Let's let people find their own silver linings, if they wish. And just be there for them. In kindness.

And let's just keeping "being there", but if we've ever said anything that we think, now, wasn't very compassionate (and I know I sure have), guess what? We're human. And we're trying. Let's start each day anew, trying to be compassionate; and let's start with ourselves first, being compassionate to ourselves, and then reaching out from there to others. 

God bless you, my friends, and may He hold and comfort you in all your trials. 

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