“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” ~ John C. Maxwell. Dr. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and bestselling author, and this quote, attributed to him, needs no explanation. This quote reminds us to identify how we demonstrate the depth of care offered in the gift of our service.
In our book, Graceful Intentions for Powerful Change, the section called “Let Love Show” contains eight brief essays each with affirmation summaries. Each article describes a value-based intention about ways to let love show. In this blog, I share the Intention to Be Compassionate from the manuscript.
Intention to Be Compassionate
Love is a feeling flowing through All That Is. With an open heart, we can experience the presence of love in every moment. Love is always present. Some people are more open to this feeling than others as they go about their activities. People experiencing the feeling of love often put this feeling into action. Love energy in motion is evident in deeds. Loving deeds don’t need to be extraordinary. We let love show in simple acts as ordinary as a hug, a smile, a helping hand, supportive words, or even eye contact. Being compassionate helps us invite the energy of unconditional love into our moment by moment experience of life. A conscious effort to treat others as we wish to be treated is equal to an intention to be compassionate.
Practicing compassion allows us to move beyond an attitude of uncomfortable tolerance, or feelings of powerlessness. Compassion helps us accept what is—even under challenging circumstances. The practice of compassion is sometimes called radical or profound acceptance. Compassion equals unconditional love. It includes a meaningful connection with others in the form of sympathy and empathy. Compassion moves us to altruistic behavior. Walking in the shoes of another, we are compelled to offer help to people and animals in need. Compassion also includes our ability to forgive ourselves and others. Compassion at this level is rooted in our connection to oneness.
In every situation, we can challenge ourselves to apply compassion. However, compassion is often tested. For example, when I hear about murder or animal cruelty, I feel great empathy for the person or animal that was harmed. I want perpetrators of harm to be punished, and my connection to perpetrators is denied and resisted. My immediate emotional reactions to violence and cruelty include hurt and sorrow, and these feelings can shift into anger or a sense of futility and powerlessness. All of these emotions are natural. I feel them when I feel them, and I let them pass. I look in the mirror fearlessly. In these situations, I allow my judgment to be my teacher as it informs me of my beliefs and values. I do not expect myself to be perfect in the practice of forgiveness or empathy, and I am grateful that Joshua’s compassion for me, for us, exceeds all conditions.
Joshua models compassion and advocates self-acceptance. Following his teaching, first, I surrender to the legitimate purpose of my feelings. Second, I do not force myself to fake compassion for others out of some misleading belief that “to forgive is divine” and that as a spiritual person I must immediately forgive people perpetrating violence. Fake compassion forces real feelings into shadow. Through it all, I do my best to remain calm, to honestly feel how I feel, and to show compassion to myself just as I am. Above all, in alignment with my heart, I refuse to act out violently in thoughts, words, and deeds. To the best of my ability, I intend to be compassionate.
Additionally, be courageously compassionate as you listen attentively to feelings and thoughts arising from within. What do you believe about people and groups you view as “them”? How do you feel about “them”? Look fearlessly in the mirror of reality and be radically truthful with yourself. When you are ready, and only then, usher suppressed or denied feelings out of shadow into the light of compassion. If you feel guilt or shame about your feelings, forgive yourself completely. There is no shame in how you feel. We love ourselves into wholeness by accepting that our human nature and our spiritual nature are equal and inseparable. We demonstrate compassion for ourselves and others as we recognize that human nature is divine nature.
I want to share a quote with you that I find deeply meaningful. “Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or an ideal we are trying to live up to. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.” –Pema Chodron
Intention to Be Compassionate: I practice compassion for myself and others. I am awake to the unseen energy and the unheard sound that flows from my being. In this awareness, I know that the strength of my being touches everything and everyone. I have the privilege of influencing the energy field around me. Love is the unseen energy singing through my heart; love shines from my eyes, and love beams from my smile. Love is ever present, and I connect with others through the compassion felt in my being. I intend to let love show everywhere I am. In my presence may others experience the love my heart sings, the love my eyes shine, and may my smile gently kiss All That Is. (End Excerpt from Graceful Intentions for Powerful Change)
I invite you to share with us the ways you let love show as you walk the path of service. Let’s share with each other and add new toys to our toy box. All ideas are welcome! Thank you.
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