Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out loud with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
~Henri J. M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrision

The word Compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with”. In our world today however, the word Compassion has been wrongfully defined as ‘someone who tells someone else what to do or how to act in certain situations’. Certainly, offering a word of encouragement or a piece of advice to someone else in a time of need can be a source of strength. Yet, the the truest sense of the word has much more to do with listening and practicing the gift of presence instead of providing answers.

A true friend is someone who cares enough about us that they are willing to walk through our hurts and pains, joys and sorrows. We all long for this type of friendship. A friend by definition is someone who won’t run and hide when I share discouraging and painful news–a friend is someone who will open his/her arms when I need to be comforted without ever saying a word–a friend is someone who will walk through the deepest, darkest questions and most confusing moments without ever needed anything in return–that is a true friend–that is compassion.


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