It’s been a few years since I read Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle. So, while I do remember bits and pieces, it’s the kind of book I’m falling in love with all over again.
The chapter on compassion had rocked me today. The deepest parts of me are awakened to who Jesus is and what the Trinity can do in me, in you, in us. And how stinking HARD compassion is.
“God is compassionate, loving kindness. All we’re asked to do is to be in the world who God is. Certainly compassion was the wallpaper of Jesus’ soul, the contour of his heart, it was who he was. I hear someone say once, ‘Just assume the answer to every question is compassion.'”
The wallpaper of his soul was compassion. Wow. That’s what I hope is said of me, but I know some other wallpaper is there too. Can’t you just picture what a difference it would make if our souls were wallpapered in compassion? This is my new prayer for the day, “Jesus, please wallpaper my soul in compassion. For if I’m compassionate I’m more like you and the true me.”
And then when he told about Betito being shot and said, “If we long to be in the world who God is, then, somehow our compassion has to find its way to vastness. It would rather not rest on the two in the van, aiming frighteningly large-caliber weaponry. I sure didn’t. When they were caught and I found I knew them it was excruciating not to be able to hate them. . . But are they less worthy of compassion than Betito? I will admit that the degree of difficulty here is exceedingly high. Kids I love killing kids I love. There is nothing neat in carving space for both in our compassion.”
Compassion means carving out space for both. Your boths are going to be different than mine. But I know you have them. Both the victim and the sex trafficker. Both your local friends and the landlord who is WAY over charging you or the government official who seems hell bent on stopping your project.
Talk about hard, but necessary.
“Jesus says if you love those who love you, big wow (which I believe is the original Greek). He doesn’t suggest that we cease to love this who love us when he nudges us to love our enemies. Nor does Jesus think the harder thing is the better thing. He knows it’s just harder.”
Recently what’s been awakening your compassion? Or getting in the way? We’d love to hear in the comments. This ties into our theme of “connection” — it’s one thing to talk about it (I love talking about things), but do the actual work of connecting, that can hard.
“WETBACK CHURCH. The chill of it momentarily stops me. In an instant, you begin to doubt and question the price of things. I acknowledge how much better everything is when there is a cost and how I prefer being hoisted on shoulders in acclaim to the disdain of anonymous spray cans.”
In an instant, you begin to doubt and question the price of things. I’ve had those moments, and I know you have too. Don’t you love his honesty?
One more quote on compassion: “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals.”
In the chapter entitled Water, Oil, Flame the idea that stuck out to me was the difference between conditional and unconditional love. “Gangs are bastions of conditional love–one false move, and you find yourself outside. Slights are remembered, error in judgment held against you forever.”
How do you see the context you’re in as a bastion of conditional love?
“In an acute gangster version of the Stockholm syndrome, homies identify with, and grow attached to, their weaknesses and difficulties and burdens.You hope, in light of this, to shift their attention and allegiance to their own basic goodness.” This gets to me because of how sneaky The Accuser is and how much he wants to distract you, your family, your team, AND those you came to serve.
As I say almost every week, I could go on, but will wait and join you in the comments!
Until then, Amy
P.S. You’ve got your calendars marked for tomorrow, right? Connection Groups sign up starts at 6:00 p.m. EST!
P.P.S. Reading plan:
September 15: Chapters 5-7
September 22: Chapters 8-9
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