If I could list my two great passions, it would have to be writing and acting.
I have always written stories and poems. My mum encouraged me to read from an early age, and I developed a love for the written word.
I wrote for fun – and therapy. In my teens I’d daily fill the pages of my diary with anguish and heartbreak. I was quite melancholy and needed a regular outlet.
I didn’t realise acting was my ‘thing’ till later in life. I felt this growing desire to express myself through bringing other characters to life. In my classes last year I understood what it meant to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – to find compassion for a character and convey them fully. I think fiction writers have to do this too. Without truly understanding the people we represent creatively, we won’t engage with our audience.
I think the same goes for our ‘real’ human interactions. We have to walk in people’s shoes to know them, and love them. We need to convey understanding so they will trust us. We need to empathise, which means experiencing their emotions with them. Compassion is not just a feeling, but an action which often requires sacrifice.
Henri J.M. Nouwen writes:
“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
I think this sounds like a big ask. Compassion requires time and energy. It often means a ‘second look’ when we see someone suffering. We might be called to give quality time we don’t really have. It might translate to inviting someone into a community where they can be cared for and helped. It might mean just a moment of grace. Of love. Of warmth. And it might mean prayers filled with tears.
But we don’t do compassion alone. We seek God’s wisdom. Jesus’s strength. The Father’s heart. We enter into people’s lives knowing He has already gone before us. He had a plan for that person before we met them. He loves them more than we ever could. May we ask God to lead the way to the needy, the hurting, the complex, the simple. We need eyes to see and the capacity to meet need wisely, with compassion that doesn’t stop at a feeling of sorrow.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Matt. 25:45