I heard this exact phrase this past weekend and I have to tell you, the topic of compassion instantly struck a cord. If anything, as it applies in my life, it’s true--compassion is hideously disruptive. And while I can admit that often times being compassionate means I get disrupted and inconvenienced in the moment (which leaves me grumbling under my breath), I would have said I did a bang-up job of hiding that fact to others. But alas, it’s been brought to my attention by a few people I’m blessed love me so much that I don’t hide my emotions very well as they pertain to disruption. No way! Could that be true of me?
Sadly, it’s true. If you know me very well, you know I’m an overachieving, type A personality that craves deadlines and organization and you also probably know I’m pretty insightful, especially when it comes to knowing myself. For example, I know I don’t have the gift of hospitality. Seriously, I don’t. Have you ever been to my house for dinner? See, not a speck of hospitality in sight. So why is this, you ask. 1. I don’t like to cook. I think kitchen counters look best clean, not cluttered with messy things like dip and cracker crumbs. 2. I don’t want my house to get messed up. Which is to say yes, I know I’m a neat freak that trends heavily toward pretty moderate OCD tendencies. While I might be self-diagnosed, it doesn’t make it any less true. But oddly enough, one of the things I enjoy most is engaging in conversation and strengthening friendships over a nice meal out. And I have no problem picking up the tab, either. My invite, my treat. Just ask my closest friends. You might be planning a cookout when you call me, but when I call, you can bet we’re eating out!
So how does all of that relate to compassion? I would have said my scorecard on compassion earned me high marks. I pride myself on quickly responded to emails and texts when anyone in my inner circle needs a hand, an ear, a ride, a dollar, a friend or just needs to vent. I try to never let a call go to voice mail from that same crowd. I try to make myself available at any hour to those I’m blessed to share my life with and thankfully, they often do the same for me. But I had no idea I was being so available with such a huff in my tone. With all of this insight, how could I have missed that?
I had no idea when my mom called last week to ask my advice about a situation pertaining to one of my siblings battling addiction that I huffed when she politely asked what I was doing. “Working!” I said in a rush. I had no idea when my son interrupted my creative writing block over the weekend that I threw my hand out and growled. Yep—he said I actually growled that I “needed just five more minutes before I could help him.” Wow, where’s the application for Mother-of-the-Year? Will someone grab it for me, please?
In my everyday world, compassion doesn’t usually carry the heavy overtones of suffering we’ve come to associate with the word. Rather, it comes most often in the simple needs of others. To me, compassion shows up first and foremost as the time I offer to share with someone. And the last thing I want to do is offer that time with a scowl on my face and a growl lacing my voice. That won’t do at all. So I’m embracing the truth about myself--I have miles of room to change so I’m determined to stop the huffing and growling. Promise. And I’m also embracing a bigger truth. Being compassionate may be disruptive, but it’s also exactly the kind of person I want to be.