Compassion

Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble.   Peter 3:8

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Later that day.

My kids were in Vacation Bible School (VBS) last week. They do it every year and have an absolute blast. They really get into the daily themes. In fact, on Tuesday, I spent a solid hour getting them ready for “Crazy Hair Day.”

Things went well with Zack and Jocelyn’s hair. They were thrilled with how they looked. But when it came to Mason’s, it was a completely different story.


Mason loves to have a spiky mohawk on Crazy Hair Day. Like always, I used a ton of egg whites and a blow dryer. But no matter what I did, or how much time I spent, I just couldn’t get the spikes to stand up straight like in previous years.

When it got to the point where we were going to be forty-five minutes late for VBS, I had to call it quits. Mason still looked okay, but when he looked in the mirror, he was crushed. He had expected his hair to look even better than last year, and that wasn’t the case.

He immediately began to sulk. It infuriated me to no end! I had spent twice as much time on his hair than Zack and Jocelyn’s combined. I had given it my best shot, and he wasn’t even the least bit grateful for any of it. I dropped my kids off at VBS and drove away incredibly aggravated.

It’s funny what time and distance can show us. Even though the commute to my house is less than ten minutes, I had a whole different take on things by the time I had arrived back home. During the drive, I had thought about all the times my own expectations hadn’t been met: plans I was really looking forward to getting cancelled, the days that got so busy I didn’t really connect with my kids, the window of time I had to relax that shrank to next to nothing, or my prayer time that was meant to refill me that felt stagnant and empty instead.

Yes, we should focus on what we do have rather than on what we don’t. Yes, things can always be worse than they are. Yes, we should always be grateful instead of greedy . But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s okay to be disappointed when things fall short of our expectations. That is what compassion is for. There are times when we need to be compassionate towards others when they face small setbacks or disappointments, and there are times when we need to be compassionate with ourselves when we face the same. Sometimes just a little kindness and mercy is all we need to set our worlds right again.

When I got in the door, I glanced at my cell phone that I had left behind in the chaos. My friend Karen, who coordinates VBS, had sent several text messages while I had driven home. Mason had forgotten to bring his keychain. It was the one item required at VBS. Karen’s messages said Mason was on the verge of tears. I knew part of his reaction was about the keychain, but I also knew that most of his reaction was about his hair.

Usually I’m that “tough love” mom who wants my kids to learn from the consequences of their actions. But this time, compassion overwhelmed me, and I got inspired. I grabbed Mason’s key chain, some pipe cleaners and scissors, and drove back to the Parish Center.

Mason met me on the sidewalk with immense relief on his face. I gave him the key chain and then went to work with the pipe cleaners. After clipping and wrapping them around his hair, each spike finally stood perfectly straight up. I had Mason look at his reflection in the window and a smile broke across his face. He thanked me, hugged me tight, and skipped his way into the building.

8 25 16 with word overlayWhen I got home for the second time that morning, there was another text message from Karen. It was a photo of Mason with his spiky hair and a big smile. Her message simply said, “Happy boy!” It made me think, “Happy Mom too!” because my aggravation had been replaced by compassion.

Questions For Reflection:

     * What has it felt like when I’ve chosen to show my kids compassion over aggravation?

     * Have I ever experienced someone showing compassion to me when I’ve needed it most?

     * Do I show myself compassion?

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8 25 16 last year with word overlay

Mason’s hair last year.

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6 thoughts on “Compassion

  1. This one made me cry a little – I am a lot like you Claire and I admire your mothering. It made me think and rethink some things I have been struggling with. Thank You !!!

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    • Oh thank you so much TJ! It is so hard to walk that line between “tough love” and compassion. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one struggling with this. Here’s praying and wishing you the discernment to know which one to choose in each situation. 🙂

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