A Conversation About Compassion|#1000Speak

Compassion says, “I may not fully understand what you are going through, but I am truly sorry that you are going through it. Let me ease your burden, even if it is in some small way.” It does not matter how big or how small the suffering of another is, to me, this is what compassion means.

When I saw a Facebook post  promoting #1000Speak, I knew that I wanted to take part in it. I had a thousand and one thoughts in my head, but the minute I put fingers to keyboard, my mind went blank. So, I decided to ask my 14 year old daughter about it while we went for a drive to the store. I told her about the blog I wanted to write and the following conversation was the result:  (her responses are in italics)

What does compassion mean to you?

To me, compassion means caring enough to do for someone else what they can’t do for themselves.

Do you think it’s easier to show compassion to some and harder to show it to others?

Yes, actually, I do.

What do you mean?

Well, like if a person shuts everyone out and is so closed off that they don’t let anyone get close enough to see inside.

What about a person’s attitude? Can that have an impact on whether it’s easy or hard to show them compassion?

Oh sure it can. I mean, say there are two homeless people outside the store when we get there. One of them smiles at people when they pass by and says hello. They say thank you to people that offer to help them, and even though they’re homeless, they seem to still have a pretty positive outlook. The other person is angry over their situation. They hate themselves or they blame others for what’s happened to make them end up living on the streets. They curse at people who walk by and are mean. They’re probably scared and have a very negative outlook.

Understandably so, I would suppose?

Well sure, I mean, I can’t imagine how I would feel if we ended up homeless.

So, you’re saying that it would be easier to show the homeless person with a positive outlook compassion than it is to show compassion to the homeless person with a negative outlook?

Well, yeah. Okay look, it really doesn’t matter what situation they are in. They could be homeless or they failed a class or lost a job or are sick or they’re just having a bad day. It’s easy to show compassion to a nice person that’s going through a tough time than it is to show compassion to someone that is mean or negative all the time. 

Okay, so are you saying it’s better to show compassion when it’s hard?

No, I’m not saying it’s better or counts more, just that it can have a bigger impact because it requires more of you to show someone like that compassion. Sometimes, it takes a bigger sacrifice. I mean, if it were easy to show every single person compassion, then every single person would do it and there would be a lot less bad stuff happening, don’t you think?

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Sometimes, that kid surprises me in some pretty amazing ways. May we all learn to show a little compassion and kindness. No matter how easy or hard it might be.

 

 

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The Cost of Procrastination

We put off repairs to the van for what seems like stupid reasons now. The decision to wait on getting one thing or another checked out and repaired was the best we could make at the time.There was always something more important that needed our attention. You know; rent, electricity, food…

The point is, we put off repairs to the van to the point where we could not ignore them anymore. Now, it’s costing us a few thousand dollars (at least) in order to make sure that our van runs well and is a safe form of transportation for our precious cargo. My husband and I debated back and forth about the wisdom of investing so much money into this run down van or just trading it in and getting something new. We decided it was better not to take on a car payment and just get the extensive repairs and maintenance work done on the van, while saving money to buy a second vehicle within the next year. In the end, our hope is that we’ll get at least five to ten good years of use out of the van. And we will, as long as we don’t slip back into procrastinating on repairs and maintenance work in the future.

All of this got me to thinking. What other areas of life have I procrastinated taking charge of, and just what is it going to cost me if I continue to do so? How many times have I said the following things to myself:

I didn’t sleep well last night, we’ll go to church next week.

I don’t feel like lugging all that laundry to the laundry mat, I’ll do it tomorrow.

I’ll stop smoking/give up soda at the start of the week/month/year.

I’ll start exercising tomorrow/next week.

I’ll go to the doctor for a check-up next week/month/year…when I’ve lost 50 lbs and there’s progress made from the last time I went.

There’s always tomorrow…

The number of times I’ve said these things, and much more, to myself is innumerable. Recently, I’ve started to feel like time is catching up with me. I just turned 38 in January, and frankly, I do not feel like I should be this close to 40 years old! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that turning 40 is a bad thing, it’s just…how did this happen?!

What was I doing while time was passing by?

I have accomplished and overcome a great deal in my life, with strength from God and the support and encouragement of dear family and friends. And yet, there is still so much more that I want to accomplish and do. It’s time to stop procrastinating and start putting my spiritual walk and my health (among a few other very important things) at the top of my priority list.

So, for now, I’m going to devote one or two blog posts a month to these areas of my life that I feel need the most work. I look forward to going on this adventure with y’all!

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Regularly Scheduled Chaos

After a serious case of writer’s block, the fun that is the entire holiday season (from Halloween to New Year’s) and multitude of birthdays at the start o the year, Imperfections in Progress is back! For now, I’m going to stick to a minimum of one bog post per week, to be posted on Mondays, with a possibility of more posts as time permits.

Thank you for your patience with me. I am really looking forward to getting back to doing one of the things that I love.  Writing.

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Strange Bedfellows

I never thought I would come out in defense of Kim Kardashian. In fact, the whole Kardashian family is barely on my radar, aside from the occasional romp through my news feed. I’ve never been bothered by the fact that I’m just not keeping up with the Kardashians, and I’ve never had any aspirations to do so. The subject of her recent photo spread in some magazine I’d never heard of was just a snippet overheard before I got to the fast-forward button on my remote while watching television for a few days. In fact, I never even actually saw the pictures.

Until…

A picture of Madea with some witty caption added to it showed up on my Facebook news feed Thursday morning. It sparked my curiosity. What was all the fuss about anyway? So, I did a quick Google search. (I’m a black belt in Google Fu, in case you were wondering.  You weren’t?  Okay.) It didn’t take long for me to get to the bottom of things. (See what I did there?)

As if the pictures weren’t enough, I had to go completely down the rabbit hole. I started reading comments. The things I read were enough to make the proverbial sailor blush. It was horrible. Kim Kardashian was being bashed for being a mom and posing for these scandalous pictures.  (Come on, internet, is anything really scandalous anymore?  Really?) But that wasn’t the last I was to see or read of Kim Kardashian and her infamous photo spread that day. Nope. A well-intentioned friend on Facebook posed the question about whether or not moms should even pose for nude pictures or put themselves out there like that. What followed were comments that quite literally broke my heart and made me angry.

Women were saying some of the most vile and hateful things about another woman. I know, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this. I suppose I’m really not, but still.  It’s the principle of it. I couldn’t even really answer the question at that moment, so I’ll answer it more fully now.

Do I think moms should pose for nude pictures and put themselves out there and willingly objectify themselves and their sexuality?

Maybe. Maybe not. It’s not really my decision if another woman with children does these things, now is it? It’s not for me. Any pictures taken of me will be taken by my husband solely for his enjoyment and stored on a device that has no continuous connection to the internet. (Nope, no cloud storage for those mythical pictures of me. Nosiree.)

I guess the more accurate question would be something like this:  Does the idea of a mom posing for a raunchy nude photo bother me?

No.  It doesn’t bother me. What bothers me about this whole things is NOT that she posed nude, or that she is a mother, or that her ass is so big and plastered all over the interwebz. What bothers me the most is all of the hateful things that have been said.

What bothers me is the hypocrisy.

She has been insulted and shamed seven ways from Sunday. She’s been shamed because she’s a mom and posed for a tacky nude cover of a magazine. She’s been shamed because of the shape of her body, most specifically, her ass. She’s been called every name in the book. Every. Name. In. The. Book. Some of the most hateful, vile things have been said about the woman in response to this photo spread. What’s worse, is that these things happened on blog sites that supposedly promote empowering women to encourage and support each other, rather than tearing each other down. It happened on a website for blogs dedicated to moms, a site where I have read some of the most uplifting and encouraging articles about being a mom, a wife, a woman.

It got me wondering what she did to deserve what boils down to cyber-bullying.

I suppose that by putting herself out there the way she has, over and over again, she’s opened herself up to this kind of thing. Do people think that because she’s famous for no good reason, she deserves what she gets? (I couldn’t tell you why Kim Kardashian is so famous, and really, I don’t care.) Pffft, there are a lot of people out there that are famous for no good reason.

Maybe if she were an actress or a singer, then this wouldn’t be happening. Wait, no, that’s not quite accurate either. I seem to recall reading something about Jennifer Lawrence and Taylor Swift being body shamed because of their respective sizes.

So, there goes that theory.

I guess I’ll never really know why, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I do wonder about something else, though…

I wonder what would happen if, for one 24-hour period, there were no insults or hateful comments on the internet? What if, for one day, people remembered the old adage Thumper’s mama made him recite:

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Now that would truly break the internet.

 

 

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Uncaptured Memories

One of my most favorite memories from when my older two kids were about  5 and 3, back in 2005, is not one that is captured by picture or video. It was in the fall, as the Monarch Butterflies made their way from Canada to Mexico for the winter. This was my favorite time of the year. We lived out in the country at the time and had a front yard full of trees. I can close my eyes and recall the day, and the video that plays in my mind is so much better than anything a camera could capture.

I was sitting on the front porch watching my daughter and son play in the front yard. The sun filtered through the leaves of the trees, creating a beautiful glow around everything.  I watched as my children danced around in the yard, twirling in circles with their arms stretched out wide.  All around them, hundreds upon hundreds of Monarchs fluttered and danced around with them. Their laughter and joy filled the air and filled my heart.

Now, the memory fills my soul.

Perhaps time has altered the memory, softened the edges of the chaos that surrounded us at the time. When I close my eyes, I no longer feel the rickety porch beneath my backside. That old rental house that should have been condemned isn’t quite as bad as it really was. Even the rusty old Buick doesn’t seem so bad.  That’s okay. It was a moment of perfect bliss.

Peaceful in the midst of depression and anxiety over our future.

If this precious scene were in a movie, I imagine it would be done in slow motion with the echoing sounds of children’s laughter dubbed over.

We have moved on from those hard times. My then 5 year old daughter is a 14 year old freshman in high school. Her 3 year old brother is 11 and started the 6th grade this year. So much has changed in the years since that perfect fall afternoon. There is a 6 year old precocious boy added to the mix now. We’ve moved to a whole new city, and life has gotten a little bit easier and harder all at the same time. We face new challenges, but the depression and anxiety have abated. They have given way to a new faith that, even when things get a little bit hard, the Lord will guide us through. I’ve given myself permission to breathe and enjoy the moment, soak in the joy and not worry so much about things that are way beyond my control.

Maybe, this fall, we’ll take the kids on a road trip one weekend to seek out the Monarchs, and we’ll finally be able to capture a new memory on camera.  It won’t compare to that perfect moment so many years ago, but it would be perfect in its own right.

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It’s Not My Place

It’s not my place to judge whether or not your lifestyle is right.

It’s not my place to judge whether or not you are a good parent.

It’s not my place to judge whether or not you are a good spouse.

It’s not my place to judge whether or not you are a hard worker.

It’s not my place to judge whether or not you are intelligent.

It’s not my place to judge whether or not you are beautiful.

IT’S NOT MY PLACE TO JUDGE.

Have you noticed a theme? I hope so. I’m not trying very hard to be subtle.

There is a lot of noise in the world.  Static telling us what beauty, intelligence and happiness looks like. Pithy one-liners telling us that if we don’t look, act or talk a certain way, then we are wrong.

I think that it is long past time that we tune out the static of the world and tune into the commandment given to us by God:

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” -John 15:12

All throughout the Bible, we are called to love.

“This is my command: Love each other.” -John 15:17

“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”- 1 John 3:11

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”- Romans 12:10

This just a small sampling of how many times God calls us to love one another, treat each other with compassion and extend grace to each other. Tune out the static and rest in the truth of God’s love.

 

 

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Forgiveness vs. Permission

My kids and I were watching television the other day and a commercial came on. I can’t remember exactly what the commercial was advertising, other than it being for a tv show. One of the characters in this commercial made a statement to the effect of “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness later than it is to ask for permission”.

The future lawyer in my family, my 11 year old son, perked up at this statement and looked at me.  I could see the wheels turning.

Oh boy.

For the moment, he was satisfied with a simple response. “No, Son, that’s not how it works in our house.”

Since then, I’ve been mulling that phrase over in my head and thinking about what it really means. The internet has plenty to say about what this phrase means. Some tout is as a motto to live by. Others say that it speaks to acting on behalf of the greater good. The quote is attributed to US Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper here and defined succinctly by Wiktionary this way:

It is better to act decisively and apologize for it later than to seek approval to act and risk delay, objections, etc.

Whatever the original intent behind this quote, it has been twisted and used to justify everything ranging from minor infractions to full-on criminal acts. For me, there is no nobility of taking chances to get ahead or benefit the greater good behind this statement. At it’s core, this statement simply means:

I am going to do what I want to do now, regardless of the rules or how it makes you feel. I will deal with the consequences later.

This quote ranks right up there with the concept of instant gratification and if it feels good, do it. It is indicative of a self-centered, entitled mindset, smacking of corner cutting and a me, me, me attitude that lacks empathy for others.

I don’t want that for my son, for any of my children. My hope is that their father and I are instilling in them an understanding of right and wrong and the ability to have empathy for others. Instead of thinking only of themselves and stepping all over the feelings of others to get what they want.

And I know this definitely won’t be the last time this kind of discussion comes up with my future lawyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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