The Power of Compassion

Most of us have one or two people in our lives who seem to always need something. They stumble into more than the average number of accidents and have more general crises than the norm. Perhaps you love one of those people. Perhaps you’ve been one of those people.

Leif Enger, in his hauntingly beautiful book Peace Like a River made an observation that echoes through my soul whenever I meet someone needy.

“It is one thing to be sick of your own infirmities and another to understand that the people you love most are sick of them also. You are very near then to being friendless in the world.”

His words never cease to shake me and bring me to tears whenever they arise and I’m grateful because I’ve asked my divine source to remind me whenever I’m tempted to unveil judgment or impatience. It has been just as I’ve requested and these words come more often to my mind than one would think they had ought to have to.

We needn’t be co-dependent and base our happiness on something outside of ourselves, including pleasing self-involved people. We needn’t extend ourselves to help them if our help encourages them to remain in the mess they’ve created. We needn’t serve them when it doesn’t serve them, or try to serve from an empty tray ourselves.

But in that delightful place of full freedom to choose our thought and action, we are free not to judge them. We are free to not be sick of them. There are many ways to befriend and we can be creative enough to find the one that will work for both us and our needy ones.

May we not sleep through someone else’s Gethsemane, if at all possible.