Getting the Heart Right


“Sometimes things happen that makes no sense at all,
you ask yourself how can another person willfully hurt another.
It is more of a statement of disbelief than a question.
All we could hope for is that our collective voice
against the inhumanity of the few
and that our universal desire to live in a compassionate filled world
extinguishes the fire of hatred they have spawned.
Let us not forsake our humanity.”

blog compassion


The fears, frustrations and uncertainties we feel are universal. We, you are not alone. This is something basic that can actually help us all connect to each other. It is a bond. If we can retrain our thought process to step into someone else’s shoes, no matter how poor the fit, instead of making a judgment or an assumption, we have a chance to extinguish the “fire of hatred”. Hatred, and I think fear too.

I have friends who patiently challenge me on this idea of compassion towards all. Every chance they get. And I love it! It makes me think longer and harder. I read more, listen more. I speak less, respond less. And I come away, each and every time more steadfast in my thinking and belief. I believe we can use our “collective voice against the inhumanity of a few” and not have to “forsake our humanity.”

“Compassion is not foolish.
It doesn’t just go along with what others want so they don’t feel bad.
There is a yes in compassion, and there is also a no,
said with the some courage of heart.
No to abuse, no to racism, no to violence, both personal and worldwide.
This is said not out of hate but out of an unwavering care.”
Jack Kornfield

 I believe these words with all my heart.

Unwavering Care.
Getting the heart right.

I don’t know how this came into my being, but getting my heart “right” is very important to me. I really work on it. When I fail, through judgment, gossip, anger, or fear, I agonize over it. I feel terrible.

In order to get the heart right we have to start with ourselves. Whatever it is, whatever it takes. We have to be honest with ourselves, face truth, let go of fear and anger, heal, allow ourselves to be healed, we have to forgive others and forgive ourselves. We have to be our own best friend…the one who loves us no matter what and says, ”I’ve got you. Go ahead and fall. I’ll pick you up and dust you off.” Unwavering care for ourselves.  It’s tough work. I’m not a trained anything, I am just a person who has fought my own demons and battles. Admittedly they are not nearly as painful and intimidating as some people’s, but they are mine, and they hurt, and sometimes still hurt. And we’ve come to truce. They will forever live under the unmbrella of unwavering care.

For me that means I put great effort into preventing hate and anger from gaining a foothold in my being, my life. At times it is very difficult. Even while writing this I am processing some emotions about a couple of people, and it is exhausting work to keep them in the light of compassion….and there have been moments where I have not been able to do this.

Even though I struggle with the same things you do, and often stumble and search for answers, I still believe I can put myself in your shoes to come closer to your experiences to let you know I care, that I extend compassion towards you.

You: the person reading this, the homeless man, the woman with mental illness, the murderer, the angry, mean person, the abuser the abused, the victim, the perpetrator, the addict, the trans-gendered, the gay, the widow, the handicapped, the deaf, the blind…….I can extend compassion towards all of you without judgment, based on our common humanity, IF I can get over the fear. And I believe I can get over the fear if I go back to the second quote,

 “There is a yes in compassion, and there is also a no,
said with the some courage of heart.
No to abuse, no to racism, no to violence, both personal and worldwide.
This is said not out of hate but out of an unwavering care.”

With unwavering care I abolish hate and just see people as people. I can see them this way and still understand what they may have done was wrong, what they are doing is hurtful. Compassion and unwavering care do not mean being apathetic, hopeless, blind, all forgiving or naive. But, I can see their pain, hurt, their dreams, fears, weaknesses, their humanness.

I understand that I wish for all people to be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. Will this ever happen? Probably not. But, I choose for myself to send out love and compassion rather than hatred and fear.  I can choose tenderness, softness, grace, humanness over ridicule, judgment, assumption, superiority, privilege.

Extending compassion only to people we think deserve compassion shuts out a whole lot of people. Every single person on this earth is worthy of my compassion because of the shared, common bond of humanity.

 “Full-fledged compassion involves feelings of tenderness for the struggles
and hopes of all people,
even those who are different from us or with whom we disagree.
We might think it would be easier to feel compassion
towards those we are close to.
But as the saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt”—
and that familiarity can lead us to label and stereotype them.
We develop a set of perceptions, and then we create labels.
For example, we start seeing someone as immature, irresponsible, or self-centered. Then we start to see all their behavior through that lens.”
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Research and Extension

To get the heart right not only do we need to develop compassion, but along side of it we have to allow humility to thrive. Humility requires us to recognize that, while our needs matter, so do the needs of other people. Humility is the willingness to admit that we do not have a complete understanding of truth. It requires us to be open to other people’s opinions. Humility is a willingness to admit that we make mistakes. It allows us to continue learning and growing.

 Unwavering care.
Getting the heart right.

 Giant goals. I’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work to do on a personal level, but I’m staying the course towards getting my heart right. Worth every ounce of effort.

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain,
to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish.
Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery,
to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears.
Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable,
and powerless with the powerless.
Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
~Henri J.M. Nouwen


One thought on “Getting the Heart Right

  1. I have always thought that compassion, not cleanliness, is next to Godliness. That works for me since Spring cleaning is just around the corner! :/
    I once read an article that said Americans are the most compassionate people in the world and referred to volunteerism and monetary donations. I know some folks, however, who do not have a compassionate cell in their body–not a good thing is callousness–but I have not walked a mile in their shoes, so perhaps there are reasons, sadly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s