#1000Speak: Compassion Takes Practice

As you may know, sometimes I practice yoga. When I do, it is in a heated room with a mirrored walls. You know what that means? Half-naked, we face the mirrors. We face ourselves, and all of our glorious imperfections.

Bend your body? Yes. Then bend your mind to imagine you can reach further.
Stretch your limbs? Yes. Then stretch your mind so far you can embrace your entire self.
Always focus on the beauty & strength you bring to each time you show up. Face yourself. Love what you see.
Ok, that’s probably too absolute.
If you don’t love it, embrace it & work to change it.
Yoga didn’t teach me this lesson, however. I’ve long had an understanding that no one is perfect.

When I was a Girl Scout I was asked to read John 8:1-11 in church one Sunday. For those who aren’t familiar, that’s the story of Jesus and the Adulterous Woman.

While it now seems a strange choice for a child to read, I honestly cannot say how it happened. Was it suggested by the minister? By my troop leader? Did I pick the verse? No clue.

What I can tell you is I was terrified to stand in front of that congregation and raise my voice. So I practiced, and practiced, reading the passage over and over until I could recite it with hardly a glance.

I practiced until I could picture the scene in my mind.
I could see the accused woman, shamed.
All the people gathered around, waiting to see someone get beaten down in public.
Then after all the accusers and onlookers have recognized their own imperfections and left, the Rabbi Jesus telling the Woman to also go.
Go and change her ways.

I read and re-read it so many times this allegory became a part of me.

None of us is perfect, and therefore, everyone deserves our compassion. But more, it was a lesson that the compassionate do not stand in judgement.

That’s what I internalized. I cannot judge.
I will not judge.

I have worked hard to grow my compassion. I’ve had to, because.. well,  because it is difficult.

If it is hard not judge ourselves and our own decisions, it’s a thousand times harder not to make judgements about someone who’s motivations we can never fully understand.

It’s hard to see someone in our lives, or on a television show, making poor choices and not snap on that. Seriously? What was she thinking???!! 
It is hard to see someone wearing fashion we find questionable and not make fun of their outfit or call them ugly. Seriously? What was he thinking???!! 
It is difficult to see someone expressing an opinion that is different than your own & not call them an idiot. Seriously?? Are you a total fecking moron??!! 

Hey, I’m not judging. I am certainly not without sin. Who among us hasn’t thought these things?

I mean, right?!! That’s what the internet is for, isn’t it? All of us snarking & standing in judgement of one another. 

No. A thousand times NO. That is absolutely not why I’m here, at least. I’m here to deepen my own understanding of the vast world I am raising my children in. I am here to learn how to be more tolerant. More compassionate.

I am here to speak my mind, yes, but also to listen to the voices of others. Even if I don’t agree.

I am here to practice, practice, and continue to internalize my mantra I will not judge. 

As I am writing this, my son is listening to a story about The Golden Rule. You remember that, right?
Do unto Others as You would have Done unto You.

Well, that’s pretty much the crux of compassion, isn’t it?

So, with that in mind I’ll ask You: Would you be the one to throw the first stone? 
How about the snide comment? 

Will you join #1000Speak and share this post?

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