The Compassion Property

I like to think of things in concrete terms, in amounts I can see, measure, reflect, and observe.  I feel more assured that way, more confident of reality.  “If I have 10 apples and I give 3 to Suzy, how many apples do I have left?”

That works great when you’re building bridges and counting apples, but when you’re relating to one another and when you’re practicing your faith, these metrics cease to exist.  Unfortunately, all too often we try to make things like love have a concrete properties like matter.

The thing is, the properties of love, or a specific way to show love by understanding someone’s suffering, compassion, is not something that gets smaller as we give it out. 

And the inverse is also true. More simply, acknowledging the pain of someone else, of another situation, doesn’t take away from other pain that exists.

It sounds so simple, but do we really understand what that means? There should be no fear of showing compassion, because it doesn’t take away from what we’re going through. Sometimes when we get trapped in our effort to compete and have THE WORST PAIN or the MOST difficult situation, we fail to reach others in a compassionate way.  People do that to people trying to have children: “Oh, infertility is exactly like this problem in life” or “At least you don’t have[ this problem]!  That would be soo much harder”. And moms do it as well, “Oh, at least you don’t have [x number of children, more than you actually have]”  or, “Having multiples is so much harder!” or “And your husband has normal hours!”  Maybe there are more challenging situations and maybe you’re also going through something so we can bond by the fact that “life is hard”, but I wonder why we always feel the need to bring that up that the exact moment we’re talking about a different pain, a totally unrelated one?

That is not compassion. 

Compassion is understanding the suffering of others and wanting to alleviate it, not merely identifying and seeing yourself in them because you have had similar sufferings, although that is an understandable first step. If it stops there, its merely an immature version of self-love, even if it does come from a good place of trying to relate to others.  But we are called to love others as well, because of their dignity and likeness of God, not because we see ourselves and our specific experiences in them. Its about ultimately coming to a place where you meet them in their suffering regardless of your own experiences. 

It seems like so many of us have this fear of meeting each other in a place of suffering to show compassion.  As if we think that that will take away from the hard things we are experiencing, instead of understanding we have an immense power to help each other through it. Maybe its not so malicious as much as a fear of exhaustion, of taking on too many burdens in addition to our own.

But as anyone who cares for different people in their family knows, whether it be children or grandparents or in-laws, love does not divide as you give it to many people, it multiples.  Filled up and poured out, so that we may be filled up again.

I think we need to start thinking about compassion the same way.  There is no sense to be frugal with compassion. Pouring out love and compassion to each other can only help each of us with our burdens, not take away from what we’re each going through. 

My garden

I’ve wanted to have a garden in this house for a while, but this year I finally got around to it! I’m proud of what we have going on, so here are a few pictures. Expect more updates as we do or do not yield a harvest! Some are from seeds and other I bought since I didn’t know exactly how successful the seedlings would be after hearing some tales of failure…

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That’s me and the freshly made bed with the babe.

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Two beds. And the lead Driller on this project. I’m the manager and designer, he’s the muscles :)

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First week after planting. They are finally perking up!

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Foreground in the first bed are tomatoes and strawberries. Store bought. There will be peppers from seedlings in the middle as soon as they are big enough to release into the wild.

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The second bed is all from seeds! Rhubarb in the foreground, snap peas on the vines, and squash and cucumbers in the back. Crossing my fingers these do something, but I’m already feeling like the rhubarb is off to a good start. Too bad I’m not supposed to harvest it until next year! Yeah, should have read the package closer…

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Last but not least, my watermelon. Goal is for the vines to grow on the old foundation.
And for those wondering, there used to be a house back there but it got torn down. So now I get to have a garden!

I forgot to mention that there are basil and oregano up there next to the tomatoes.

Now I just have to wait. And water. But not too much. I tend to do that.

Just to clarify…

You know you’re inarticulate when you have to go back and clarify posts…

But, in regards to my last post, I just wanted to put it out there that, while I am sympathetic to the plight of the infertile/sub-fertile woman trying to conceive and those that joke about fertility inappropriately, I can not pretend like those feelings affect me at the same level personally now as they did before, hearing about pregnancy announcements, that type of thing, etc. 

Its just, I was staunch about not using the word “infertile” for myself before, but now that I have a living breathing child that I can look in the eyes, I feel even more committed to it. 

(For the record, in my head the idea was I would not call myself infertile until I had given up treatments…I was not living in fantasy land that my body could have children if I just think about the right word, I was just being realistic that for as long as I was willing to try supplements to make it conceive, then I should admit that there’s a chance.  Otherwise, what’s the point of the treatments?  I do believe at some point you have to come to terms for sanity sake.  I guess it just seems that 1 year of not conceiving is a bit quick to conclude its not possible at all.) 

Who knows if I will be able to have more children.  At this point, that is irrelevant.  It took (2) years to conceive this guy, mere months after surgery,  I know it may take years to conceive any more, if at all.  But he is my proof of the fruit my body can produce.  Not in a “if I did it once I can do it again!” way but in a, “It did it once and that is infinitely more than not at all”, way.

I feel to say that I am infertile now would be an obvious lie.  I can conceive, maybe not on my timeline and not on the timeline that anyone our generation would find appropriate or desirable, but that word is forever removed as a word to describe myself.  I know others may feel differently, but to describe myself that way seems to do an injustice to those who are actually infertile. 

My heart will forever identify with the difficulty and the pain that so little people understand. Some of my best friends and the most compassionate people I know are still in the midst of trying to sort out their body’s brokeness and find a path that their marriage can bear tangible fruit.  I’m pretty sure I will forever cry at certain things and I will want to give a voice to those hurting, I cannot erase that, but that doesn’t mean that I am by any means not content with the blessing I have.   I would love to have more children and I’m sure as time goes on that ache will get stronger.

Years from now I may eat these words and my feelings may have totally changed as I mourn the siblings I could never give Sam, but I truly believe that God has healed this part of my life.  My eyes and heart have been opened with this literal healing of my body that brought us Samuel.  My feelings on adoption and fostercare have been completely transformed with the birth of our son, and though I wish it could have been accomplished beforehand, I needed healing to take place that has. I know I have scars that may ache, but infertility is no longer an open wound for me.

I pray that this is not a temporary feeling, and that I always remember that this peace that God placed on my heart and contentment with my beautiful, wonderful son is not by accident. 

Thank God!

For Easter!  The beautiful reminder of life beyond the cross, joy beyond the pain.  It all happening for a reason, even if it seems bleak in the meantime.  It being life. The cross.

And something to take my mind off my own failures, because really, as much as I try to make it about myself, its not!  Whew! I can’t handle that type of pressure.

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Anyway, another quick little story.  Today I was reminded of how different I am, even when from the outside it looks like I go to these parenting classes and I hold a beautiful baby boy, who is quickly turning not so baby-ish anymore.  At our little mommy and me/parent ed class this morning a close friend in the class by announced she was pregnant.  It was a crazy response in my heart, the flood of aching/glee/pain/happiness/awe/jealousy mix that only those who’ve been there would quite understand was all in there and I almost started crying because, well that’s what I do, and I was like, “Ok God, this is a good thing!  Let’s rejoice that it goes right!” and having to respond on the spot in person was almost more than I could handle.  But I did! And we all congratulated her.

And then she said “April fools!”.

And I went from all those emotions, back to just one, simple one. 

Anger.

Why the heck would you joke about that?! What about that was funny?

She got us good.  Especially me.

But I quickly concluded (and tried not to be too hard on her, though I told her that was not funny!) that that is a major difference between people who have struggled to get pregnant, and those that get pregnant right away. I would never think to joke about that.  Because that would be the most depressing April Fool’s joke ever. 

“Guess what, I’m pregnant!  Actually I’m not.  Wah wah.”  Goes and cries to yourself. 

Sheesh.

And now, to put you on the spot, would you joke about that?