“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.”–Psalm 103:1-4.
My daughter and I are learning the skill of having compassion for ourselves.
Compassion isn’t always seen around our world and culture. Look in our news, in our media, in our entertainment culture, in our everyday lives. Being gracious, merciful, and kind seems to have gotten buried with bearing grudges, impatience, looking out for #1, putting others down, and being unkind and judgmental. Where is kindness? Where is compassion? It is virtually absent at times and replaced with an ugliness that permeates our hearts. This darkness spreads like a cancer and causes reactivity to people that pops its head out at the simplest things– road rage at someone who cuts you off, impatience in a grocery line, anger at a professor for a grade you deserved, judgement for a neighbor or family member who does things differently than you, Facebook rants, Tweet rants, and the list could go on and on.
Having compassion for others is linked, I think, to having compassion for ourselves. Shame-based behaviors and the messages we tell ourselves limit the compassion and kindness and pile on the judgement, disdain, and dislike of self–“You aren’t smart.” “You are ugly.” “You messed that up.” “Why would you try that? You aren’t any good.” “You can’t do that.” “Look at all your mistakes.” Think about a typical day and notice how many times you tell yourself these types of messages (or worse). Where is the compassionate and kind voice to yourself? “You are beautiful.” “You are smart.” “You are capable.” “You are determined.” “You can do this.” “You are able.” What different human beings we would be if we used the voice of compassion with ourselves and others!
In the Psalm above, David praises God for His benefits, His forgiveness, His healing, and His redemption. But the last part says God “crowns me with love and compassion.” God gives us love and compassion. We are not only given it, we are crowned with it. Imagine wearing it always… what a difference that could make to our souls if we believed it and claimed it as our own.
I think our challenge is we often look for compassion for ourselves within or from other people, and can’t always find it. We need an outside source: God. He fills us with His love and compassion for us. Jesus loves us so much that He died for us. We are so valuable and loved by Him. He has great compassion on us. That is where we need to seek it. Then we can find it within and use it for our own selves and share it with others!
Prayer-“Gracious God, I pray to be more kind and compassionate to myself. When I put myself or others down, help me to seek your compassion so that I may know it about myself. Help me know your great love for me so that I can also love myself. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”