Forgiveness Friday: Compassionate Prayer

I pray on the principle that wine knocks

the cork out of a bottle.

There is an inward fermentation,

and there must be a vent.

~ Henry Ward Beecher

Oh my goodness.

I’m involved, thankfully, in a very intense exchange of messages and posts among some online friends who are fighting for their child’s life. For real!

A week or so ago a friend started a message thread to several moms that asked for prayer because her son had attempted suicide. Soon after, another mom announced that her child was having severe behavior issues at school and that things were not looking good at all. A few days later one of the other moms had to announce that her adult son with special needs was suddenly gravely ill. Sadly, his funeral is tomorrow. Word arrived this morning on this thread that yet another mom was having her child air-cared to the hospital and is in grave condition.

Why is this thread something I am thankful for today? Certainly not because I enjoy drama in the form of real life crisis.

It’s because I’m reminded that prayer is so real, and so doable. I’ve never met any of these women. A few of them have met at conferences and the like, but to my knowledge, most of the connections between the women that the thread started with are by way of prayer and online communication.

Prayer may not change things for you, but it for sure changes you for things.  ~Samuel M. Shoemaker

Have you ever had the sudden feeling that you were being prayed for? It’s odd. Cool, but odd. I had it happen a week or so ago. No clue who it was rallying the angels on my behalf, but it really did feel like an out of the blue – whoosh of, fresh air. This is good, because I was, and continue to be in a knot of worry. When I get this way I really can’t pray much. I try not to worry about that. These issues and days and phases always pass, and like trying to remember how to do a certain dance move, my conversations with God start right back up again and we carry on together in a slightly different light. Well, sometimes the change is massive. Depends on the crisis load at the time!

In the mean time, I remain thankful that I am being prayed for by others, and even more thankful that I am being kept in the loop of these mom friends who are humble enough to admit their pain and willing to ask for help.

I stumbled on an article yesterday that is about compassion fatigue. Author Trevor Hudson explains that “Self-love and other-love are bound together.” Simple concept…but often forgotten and avoided, especially during crisis. I’m going to copy and post the whole thing in another spot. If you want to read the whole thing (it’s short!) you can find it here.

Phew. Life. Details. Stress. Phew.

Much peace to everyone, about, well, every thing!

Trevor Hudson on Compassion Fatigue

I found this great article on a great website named Alive Now. They used it as part of a reflection page. I also wrote a post (click here if you want to see it) on how this short essay was a timely read for my week.

Becoming a Compassionate Neighbor to Myself

by Trevor Hudson
from A Mile in My Shoes

Christ-followers who take seriously the gospel’s challenge to compassion often neglect to care for themselves. Whatever the reasons for this neglect (ranging from fear of doing anything that looks selfish, always wanting to please others, and needing to be needed to a sincere desire to put others first) inadequately caring for ourselves sets us up as prime candidates for compassion fatigue. We can care overmuch. Accepting the fact that we can care for others only when we care for ourselves guards us against the dangers of overcaring. . . .

When we do not show compassion toward ourselves, our compassion for others becomes poisoned with harmful toxins. However, once we learn to love ourselves as God does, we become freer to pour out our lives in sacrificial self-giving and to do so without resentment and heaviness of spirit. Having a proper love for ourselves, we can then forget ourselves, reach out to others, and respond to their needs. Self-love and other-love are bound together. Perhaps for this reason Jesus reaffirmed the centuries-old levitical command given to the Hebrew people as binding upon his followers: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). How do we become compassionate neighbors to ourselves? Here is a menu of possibilities worth exploring:

Take care of your body.

In caring for others we use up a great deal of physical and mental energy. If we do not replenish these limited resources, we run the risk of compassion fatigue. We cannot fulfill our God-given callings to be compassionate human beings in bodies that are constantly neglected and overextended. How we feed, exercise, relax, listen to, and nourish our bodies are matters relevant to faithful discipleship. As Francis of Assisi lay dying, someone asked if he would have changed anything in his ministry. Significantly he responded, “I would have been more kind to my body.” . . .

Do what you enjoy.

Most people have a favorite spare-time activity. Whether it be working in the garden, walking in the countryside, playing sport, listening to music, reading for fun, developing a personal hobby, going to the movies, or simply enjoying a leisurely bath, these activities possess wonderful resourcing potential. When we omit activities like these from our lives—as those who care are prone to do—we end up living resentful, joyless, and frazzled lives.

On the other hand, taking time to enjoy them renews energy levels, recharges inner batteries, and fills our empty tanks. If we want to give ourselves in compassionate caring, few aspects are more important than finding out what we enjoy doing—and doing it. . . .

Process your own pain.

Each of us sits next to a pool of tears. [It was in a conversation with Gordon Cosby that I first heard the phrase “pool of tears.”] Some pools are deeper than others, but each of us has a pool of his or her own. These pools represent our grief about the experiences that have crushed our spirits, scarred our souls, and crippled our relationships. Trying to bring consolation and comfort to others in their pain without giving attention to these painful memories renders us vulnerable to compassion fatigue. However, finding a human wailing wall where we turn our pain into speech renews our capacities to live and love more deeply. Besides experiencing the loving presence of God in the care and counsel of those who listen to us, we also find out that processing our own pain helps us reach into the hearts of others who are in pain.

Permit me a brief word of testimony in this regard. Over the years numerous people have affirmed in my life the gift of listening. I spend large chunks of my daily time offering a listening presence to people in pain. The flipside of this listening gift was, however, that I seldom spoke about my own pain. Bottled-up feelings and emotions raged in my heart, longing for release. Some years ago I decided to find a safe place where I could share my heart. In the presence of a patient and skilled listener I found the courage to express my inner anguish—a liberating, healing, and humbling experience. This journey toward my own healing has not ended, but I know that without it I would be in no position to care for others.