So, this year has put me through a crash course in compassion.
There are many reasons haven't talked or blogged at all about my divorce. One has been simply the embarassment of it all. I heard many a version of "I saw that comin'" which only brought me greater pain than I was already experiencing. I needed to hear at times, because it clued me into the depth of the issues. Other times, I took the snide remarks concerning Buck as hurtful personal insults though I kept it all to myself. I wanted nothing to do with bitterness which is where any amount of Buck bashing would have led. I've found myself encouraging him in genuine ways instead, because divorce is such an ugly, harsh thing. I've found my own encouragement in my faith, and God's grace seems to have been more than sufficient for me...sustaining and ever-present better describe His many gifts to me along the way. And then there are the precious friends who have always been right alongside me, who never wavered in giving me much needed doses of love, respect, kindness, joy.
But I've always had a chink in my armor- I have a big problem with pity. I loathe self pity. Pitiful people do not bring out the best in me, and I have to work very hard internally to be kind. I suppose I define pitiful people as adults who expect someone to take care of them and all their problems without personal action. The last thing I'd ever like to be is pitied, and divorce is a swirling cauldron of gossip, blame and worse. Divorced stay-at-home moms are an ultimate target of pity, "Poor True! Are you going to have to WORK now and send all those children to the INSTITUTION of school? Are you going to have to be apart from your children? How will you make it financially? Won't you be very lonely? Can you make it without a husband? If you are a Christian, why can't you just forgive him and stay married for your children?" Upon hearing about my news, some well intentioned women felt compelled to explain to me how divorce could never happen to them. I suppose the women weren't thinking how this shifts blame squarely upon me, as if I'd should been a better wife like them. I did and still do lots of listening, little talking in these circumstances. I'd already known for nine years there was no such thing as a fireproof marriage for me.
And I did some serious soul searching, as one might suppose. I had to find a way out from all that pity to the surface where I could breathe. From the start, I kept much to myself to stop all the chatter and suggestion for my life. Only with three friends and Jesus could and would I explore the depths of the "why me? and how?". It has truly been enough to show me a clear path to my very own beautiful life. No time or room for self pity.
In my examination of pity, I stumbled upon compassion. I wondered why compassion seemed to work for me. It certainly did not not leave the same bitter taste in my mouth. Was it the element of sympathy or empathy at play which makes compassion something I'll allow for myself? One day I posed the question to God who was faithful to answer. The root of pity is paternalistic..."I'm in a better place than you that I'll never have to visit, and I feel sorry for you". The root of compassion is community plus passion....:"let me walk beside you in community and have the same passion for your pain". In pity, I am the lesser. In compassion, I am an equal. I felt tons lighter with this revelation. I've known and still know the comfort of dear friends, especially my friendship with Jesus, walking beside me in my difficult circumstance, acknowledging the injustice done to me, encouraging me toward strength, not dehumanizing Buck or minimizing my pain to reassure themselves. What a gift. I strive toward this gift for others instead. May it be the work of us all.
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