Thursday, July 11, 2019

Inside my skin

"Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too." (Frederick Buechner) 

Whose 'skin' have you been living in this week? I know a good many individuals who never 'get out of' their own skin long enough to realize what it is like living in someone else's skin. Their days are filled with 'me', 'me', 'me' - leaving little room for any other concern a brother or sister may be enduring. It is a truly sad existence to never get out of one's skin! Compassion isn't given any other way. The genuineness of one's caring is really not 'felt' by the other person until the 'compassion connection' is really made.

It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need, but compassion for the poor—what a blessing! (Proverbs 14:21)

The other person is overtaken by something that causes great pain for them. They may or may not reveal their pain openly, but know this - it is painful nonetheless. Be the kind of friend that recognizes their 'hidden pain' even when they are not yet comfortable admitting it exists. There is sorrow inside that other person's skin - you will discover it when you crawl inside their world for just a while. There is no joy felt deeper than when it is the joy that comes from sharing the burden with another who is hurting, fearful, or lost in their pain.

What is your neighbor's need? Sometimes we think we have to know someone so well in order to understand or acknowledge their need. Trust me on this - you can learn a lot about a person by walking a while in their skin! You may not know them well when you start the journey, but you will get insight into their life very quickly when you take that first step. It doesn't take much to lift the spirits of the one alone in their pain, sorrow, or fear. It takes you caring enough to do more than say you care! 

I don't know what it is like to lose a leg, but a good friend of mine has experienced it first-hand. Her struggles are real. Her pain is more than 'adjusting' to life without that limb. I haven't lost a child, but I have friends who have. Their pain is not just for the loss, but there is sometimes a sense of guilt for having 'outlived' them. I may not know that loss, or those feelings of pain, but I am able to understand they don't need to walk alone. I don't need to tell them their loved one is in a 'better place' - that isn't what they need to hear. They just need me to 'get inside their skin' a while and walk with them through that grief. If we want to be Jesus to the world, it starts by being Jesus to each other. Just sayin!

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