def: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
Compassion is such an important element of healing. It's not just about showing compassion to others, but also showing compassion to ourselves. After all, if we are not compassionate to ourselves how can we begin to fathom true compassion to others? Scripture tells us "...love others as yourself". You have to love self before you can love others. Perhaps this is where the disconnect begins - we are void of self-compassion and therefore do not know how to show compassion outwardly.
What are some areas where you need to show yourself some compassion? You may not be quite ready to do this across the board, but you can start somewhere.
As you walk along, reimagining your healing journey, make sure to create space and time for reflection. I am in no way incinuating that you need to dwell on the past - make no mistake. I am encouraging you to sit and ponder your past. Grab a pen and some paper and let your mind pour out words, phrases, ideas through your fingers. Don't grab your computer. There is something more cathartic about the act of writing.
Reflect on your childhood and how it has shaped your life to this point. Forgive those who were charged with raising you and obviously failed you in some way. They are human and holding a grudge only hurts you. Work to pray over the pain and release it. You will have to do this more than once. In this step, allow yourself grace. You will need it as you grieve - and you will grieve.
Reflect on friendships. Do you have people in your life that have been there since childhood? What is it about them that makes you work at those relationships? What are the characteristics those people possess that you realize you need in your life? What do you offer those relationships? Take some time to ponder the reason, season, or lifetime you have spent with people. Then, please send a handwritten note (if you can) to those who are a blessing in your life. You know they are a blessing to you... but do they? Don't assume they know what you mean to them.
Reflect on the losses you've endured. Family, friends, children, spouses, pets, expectations that you had and have said farewell too. Again, give yourself grace as you grieve. As your chest grows heavy, lean into the grieve that will wash over you. Pray over the pain of loss and work to let it go. This will likely be another area you will need to revisit more than once.
Reflect on the blessings that have glittered your lifetime. Spend the most time here because it is the more life-giving. Consider the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, the food in your belly, the laughter you enjoy, the relationships that matter, the money you have, the freedom you enjoy, your health (yes, even a sickness can be a blessing if you choose to see it as such), etc. Blessings can come through all sorts of avenues: a job you didn't want but provided for your family; a little extra cash in your pocket; a extra long line at the store that allowed you to read a beautiful article in a sea of what is typically garbage news; a conversation with a friend you haven't talked to in too long...
Reflect on how you treat yourself. Do you speak love to yourself or disapproval? Was that something that was modeled for you? Scripture tells us "love others as you love yourself". We cannot love others until we have love for ourselves. This is NOT pride - this is self-care, self-love, self-value, honoring your boundaries, honoring your gifts and talents, making space for YOU in the midst of caring for everyone else. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (if you are a Believer). Are you cleaning out the junk and dust? Are you feeding it what it needs (not just food but also visually, audibly, etc)? Are you taking into account that your temple is NOT someone elses temple? Do not compare - that will only steal your joy.
Reflection will stir up unpleasantness. That I can promise. Do not fear! Explore the unpleasant. Explore the pain. Explore the context of all you experienced. Spread grace over it all. Embrace the pain one last time and then release it as you would a dear friend who has been called away from you, never to return. That pain shaped you into who you are today - and that is not a bad thing. "Choose this day whom you will serve..." Choose to serve the Lord, be kind to yourself, do the next right thing.
“Self-Care means never pouring from an empty cup.”
-Coral, Founder & CEO of Reimagine Healing
Have you heard this phrase before? I wouldn’t be surprised if you have. It is a vital part of life that many do not take seriously and some even feel they cannot afford it. Cancer parents (as I am one) are especially prone to suffer this deficiency. As they care for their warrior child, it is all too easy for them to put themselves on the back burner… if on the stove at all. Self-care does not have to be an added expense. It does not have to mean a day at the spa or a trip to the Mexican Riviera. It can be as simple as giving yourself 10 minutes to read a few pages in a book you’ve been wanting to read. It can be allowing yourself the time to take a longer shower and actually blow dry your hair instead of throwing it up in a ponytail still dripping wet. It can also be as simple as choosing the bigger cup of coffee (whether at home or at your favorite coffee spot). Self-care is all about yourSELF. It doesn’t mean you forget about your responsibilities… it means that you make yourself a priority. Afterall, if you are not healthy, how in the world can you successfully continue to care for your child?
For my fellow cancer parents, community is a key element of self-care. If you are in need of a community, please reach out to Reimagine Healing and get plugged in. To be around like-lifed people is extremely powerful and encouraging. The simple acknowledgement from those who get it goes a long way and knowing you are not alone can be just the thing you need to make it through the next fifteen minutes.
Today is Thanksgiving. On this day American culture would have you believe you have to create the most Pinterest-worthy environment for as many people as could walk through your home between the hours of 1-8pm. The pictures show a perfectly roasted turkey with all the trimmings, large numbers of people with smiles on their faces and mugs of hot beverages in their hands. Sweaters, scarfs, and all things fall - pumpkins, gourds, maple leaves, twiggy trees, apples, cloves, etc.
Is this picture acceptable? Certainly, if you are the kind of person that loves cultivating it, nurturing it, preparing it, cleaning up after it.
But what if you're not that person? Is there still space for you this day? Yes, yes there is. How do I know? Because I am this person... the person who does not thrive in the Thanksgiving chaos, despite being an extrovert. Hospitality, as pictured in the William Sonoma catalog, is not a gift I possess. I love having people over, in small numbers, so that I can spend intentional time with them. I love encouraging people to kick off their shoes, snuggle up on my couch, and invite them to partake of the refrigerator rights they obtain just by walking through my front door. I love to focus my attention on the person instead of multi-tasking and giving them less than my full attention.
The images below are not intended for comparison... they are meant to show two very different ways of celebrating a day geared toward thankfulness.
Gratitude isn't about keeping up with the Joneses. It is the posture of surveying what you have, Pinterest fails and all, and still finding something to be grateful for. Gratitude walks hand in hand with perspective.
So, if you are a Pinterest-perfect person, be grateful for the artfulness you embody and the way you can share beauty with others.
If you a Pineterst-fail person, like me, be grateful that your worth is not found in your artistic abilities.
There is no one right way to do Thanksgiving. Your way is just fine. Do not spend one moment comparing yourself or your decor to another... that is apples to oranges and serves no one well.
All people, be grateful for what you have. Not only because there is always someone else dreaming, praying, wishing for you have but because a grateful heart will have joy and not merely fleeting happiness.
1 Thessalonions 5:18
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