Samantha Wiraatmaja »

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When Compassion Hurts

In the midst of all the festivity and Christmas hustle & bustle, one thought keeps dogging me.

This one prayer has been in my heart, “Lord, that I may hear and know the true hearts of people beyond what is spoken/unspoken.”

This is a prayer that I have prayed, and experienced to some measure, through my growing up years. Somewhere along the way, this deep desire became diluted by all the other concerns and worries of life. But recently, the Spirit of God who makes intercession for us and through us, reawakened the words in my heart.

This week, I think God answered my prayer.

And I absolutely hated it.

It was hard and more than a little annoying, yet also strangely beautiful and liberating.

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Compassion is an uncomfortable thing.

It permeates every corner of the heart. Where prejudice and disdain had once staked their claim, compassion comes in and washes away the foundations till all that is left is… well, compassion.

This past week, every time a negative thought entered my mind about a person (maybe they weren’t very nice people, or maybe it was their overbearing personality, or self-seeking agendas, or just because they were TOO different from me), I was surprised to find my mind/heart flooded with images and feelings – of what that person was going through, of their past, and what made them who they were. It was impossible to judge or dislike them anymore. Instead, compassion would rise up involuntarily in my heart and I couldn’t stop myself from praying for them and hoping for their well-being.

And I didn’t like it one bit.

I came to realize that I actually liked holding on to my prejudices and disapproval. They formed a protective shell around me so that my heart stayed unbroken and untouched.

What I had tasted of compassion as a child had taught me this – compassion makes you vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to walk around with your heart exposed, and handing the people you love the knife. Compassion, so I thought, made me weak. A pushover. Taken for granted.

But what I couldn’t foresee was that closing off my heart would not protect me at all. The cold winter can numb the senses until we can hardly feel, but slowly & surely its slow death works its way into the core of our being.

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Bob Marley once said, “Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure.”

Vulnerability is scary, challenging, and painful at times. But the only other alternative is death. I don’t want my heart to become dead – I would much rather experience some pain than to never feel Joy, Peace, Love, and so many other wonderful feelings.

I look back on my life and find that the happiest moments were the ones when I loved freely and opened my heart to receive the love of others. In those moments, I was free, soaring, alive.

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2014 seems to be year that I am being challenged to love in a higher level. To fine tune my heart so that my love looks a little more like His love.

During our first-ever tradition as a new family – the Lee-Wiraamaja annual thanksgiving dinner – Alex and I reflected on how much of our year had been spent in love, for love, through love (the background to this story here). We made a covenant for next year, which I will share about soon!

What are some ways you have protected yourself that may be more harm than good? What do you think would happen if you let those defenses down?

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