Compassion is an interesting practice and one often misunderstood especially by this elf us who tend to lean a little towards the new age side of things. Many people think compassion needs to be gentle, kind, soft, tender and in some cases that is the style or expression of compassion that is required.
Let’s not shortchange the vastness of compassion by allowing only this tender side of it. Compassion has a bold, firm, no nonsense side to it as well that can be mistaken for lack of compassion. Let me explain with a bit of a story.
A family member of mine made a personal decision the other day that will affect her young life in significant ways yet to unfold. After only days at university she chose to quit. In spite of scholarships, family support financially, emotionally, and practically she buckled under some sort of fear and not good enough stuff and is walking away from a great education, a wonderful sports opportunity, and a whole new adult life.
I was surprised and disappointed and felt she was making a big mistake. My support for her and compassion for her and her future didn’t look like the gentle, tender compassion some thought it should. I was firm, loving absolutely yet firm and told her I could not support her choice. I told her that I thought she was making a decision based on fear and that 3 or 4 days of university was not nearly enough time on which to base such an important decision. “Stay at it for a full semester and then choose, give yourself a chance to succeed.” I demand as lovingly as I could.
Others in my family thought I was being too hard on her, and that I lacked compassion. No, I was being totally compassionate and letting her know how I really saw the situation.
I felt and still feel that she is making a poor decision; that she is quitting on herself and making a mistake she will regret later in her life. A world-class education, a sports scholarship to help pay for it and she is letting it all go. Compassion, my compassion, demands that I speak my mind and let this younger one hear my admonishment to stay in university for one semester and give it a full effort, to persist through this temporary yet challenging time.
Don’t Quit!!!! Give yourself a chance to succeed!!!! Stay with it for a few more months!!!!!!!!
Compassion is neither soft or hard, bold or tender. It is an art form and true compassion is both.
Warmly and with gratitude