You know those old pains that cut deep and leave scars? We all have them and no matter how old they are, they seem to still be a little tender. The slightest bump or bruise to them aches deeply. I hate to even think about sharing them because they come from a part of me that doesn’t like to be vulnerable and fears rejection. However, like most scars, they signify a lesson or two learned from life.
My relationship with my Daddy (my biological father) is one of those old scars signifying lessons learned. There has been a lot of pain and a lot brokenness. I love him deeply and I know that he loves me. There is no condemnation and no fault here. We’ve made amends over the years and we love each other as best we can now, but it’s far from ideal. His absence in my life has left a void that still rings with a hollow emptiness when I think about it. I think the same is true for him. It’s complicated.
We would like to right things, and we’ve tried, but our relationship just seems irreparably distant. However, this broken relationship, though painful, has done me more good than I can even begin to describe. It’s part of what drove me to seek Jesus. It has forced me to look into hurting places and evaluate. It’s caused deep growth and change in my heart. It bubbled up a wealth of forgiveness, love, grace, and mercy that I never knew existed in my own heart. It gives me compassion for the broken because I am one and I love one.
Although I would like to see total restoration, maybe some things require a longer season of learning . I think that’s the case, because God is still is bringing beauty from these ashes. He isn’t done in this story yet.
That’s was obvious to me yesterday, when a simple moment helped me remember the power of compassion.
And it came in the sweetest form.
Like most interesting things, it happened at Wal-Mart. I had been dealing with a family matter and needed to speak to my Daddy. He called while I was with my boys frantically searching for a school project that we needed to have ready to present in a couple of hours to our homeschool group. (Procrastination at it’s finest, but whatever.)
My boys walked behind me, randomly picking up things from the craft isle shelves and playing while I was talking and searching out supplies. They were relatively non-destructive, so I paid them little mind. I shopped and talked while they did their thing in the aisle behind me.
When I hung up the phone my youngest came up behind me while I was still frantically searching for jumbo craft sticks. He asked questions and I gave distracted, half hearted answers without really even looking his direction.
Gav: “Mom, who was that?”
Me: “My Daddy. Remember, you don’t know him, but we’ve talked about him before.”
Gav: “He called? When did you see him last?”
Me: “When Grandpa passed away.”
Gav: “When before that?”
Me: “When Grandma passed away. Before that, maybe years. Maybe my wedding. I’m not sure, buddy. Not often.”
Gav: “Do you FaceTime since you can’t visit.”
Me: “No buddy. We don’t.”
Me: “For lots of reasons. He has just never been very involved in my life. It’s complicated.”
I turned the corner and started down the next isle when I heard my oldest ask my youngest why he was crying. I stopped and turned around to see what was going on, and Gavin walked towards me with tears in his eyes and wrapped his sweet arms around my waist, laid his head against me, and said what my heart didn’t even know it needed to hear.
“Mommy, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that happened to you.”
And we both had a moment right there in Wal-Mart. Because sometimes you don’t even know you need compassion from someone or for someone to understand that your heart aches. You don’t know you’re swallowing a hurt that needs to be acknowledged. Sometimes, you forget the power that compassion has. It’s a simple as someone one saying, “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” and feeling that pain with you for a moment.
I needed that beautiful lesson on compassion. As I race around in my busy life tending to the day to day, I don’t often stop to wrap an arm around the people who I know are hurting and comfort them. I know so many people who are going through hard things, and my heart hurts for them. However, I often let it stop right there. I don’t often take that next step toward reaching out. Most of us don’t.
Those little arms and those little words were unbelievably meaningful. That was real, beautiful, true compassion walked out by my tender-hearted boy at Wal-Mart.
Lord, help me to offer that sweet compassion more. Help me to see when hearts ache and to reach out my arms in compassion. Help us all to. Amen.
Love and blessings,