I Feel Your Pain

8 Jan

Whine: My psychic dream was partly true. At my actual dr. appointment, I did gain my fair share of weight this month. Enough, in fact, to put me at 30 weeks where I ended up last time at 41 weeks and shortly after gave birth to a nine and a half pound baby. I’m pretty sure the one in there is not weighing in at nine and a half pounds yet. So I’m probably carrying a nine and a half pound food baby along with my three pound actual baby.

Cheese: I ended up on the bottom of a kiddie dog-pile yesterday. All three of my kids managed to land on top of (ok, one of them was inside of) my belly. Guess it’s a good thing I have all that extra padding. Although the padding was not as helpful when I tried to get up. I writhed around like a topsy-tury turtle until Big Sis stopped laughing at me long enough to lend me a hand.

As much as I hate to admit it, I need other people. As much as I’d prefer to say that I can handle my life by myself, anyone who has read this blog knows that I wouldn’t make it very long without someone stepping in and lending me a hand. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of you wonder how I make it through a day unsupervised, what with all the getting stuck climbing in windows and lost with no cell phone in strange towns in the middle of the night and accidentally lighting things on fire (that’s a story for another time.)

The long and the short of it is that in my life I have been on the receiving end of millions of acts of compassion, both teeny tiny, almost unnoticeable ones, and blow-your-mind, over-the-top generous one. Compassion is a funny word. When you see my sorry, pathetic state and feel sorry for me (after you stop laughing)- -that’s not compassion. That’s pity. And that’s ok. But when you see my sorry, pathetic state, feel sorry for me (after you stop laughing) and feel so moved as to lend me a hand- -that’s compassion.

Like the time when I went to Subway to order some dinner after a hard day at work (that was before I had my own children and knew what “a hard day at work” could really mean) and the friendly sandwich artist kindly asked me how my day was. To which I replied “Horrible.” and burst into tears. There was something about the genuine way in which he asked the question, the first touch of humanity I’d experienced that day, that undid me. And then he was so gracious as I sobbed/ordered my sandwich, handing me the highly-coveted Subway napkins (have you ever noticed how stingy they are with those things??) to dry my tears, and nodding as I tried to explain my awkward outburst.

Or the time my freshman year of college when I was happily sleeping my way well into morning after a long night of studying, and my sweet grandpa-aged German professor called me on the phone to remind that the final I had been studying for was, in fact, happening right then. To which I loudly swore, in English, it was only German 101 after all, and began throwing clothes on and running out the door. Oh yes, I almost slept through one of my first college finals. Had it not been for sweet, compassionate Herr Ziefle, that A- in German would have almost certainly been a much different letter.

Or the time when the man in the mall parking lot changed my tire because I was obviously out of my league. Or when some anonymous person gave me a large check because things were not going so well for me financially. Or when a friend sent a bag of peanut m&ms and a case of diet coke, just because I was having a hard time.

But sometimes, as much as we might feel someone’s pain, there’s not a lot we can do. Like when I’ve decided that instead of a woman I’ve transformed into a hippopotamus (ok, that was yesterday.) No one can make those pounds disappear for me, right? But a good friend might feel my pain and tell me that she, too, turned into a hippopotamus once upon a time and that her life didn’t end. In fact, she might say that she managed to lose all the weight after all, and that I, in fact, do NOT look like a hippopotamus.

Kind words can go a long way. I remember agonizing over a relationship with a friend, always feeling like the biggest loser (and not in the NBC primetime kinda way) and worrying about my potential for being perpetually annoying. Another friend had the kindness to say to me, “Well, Sarah, it’s not a sin to be annoying.”  which made me giggle, and is actually quite true. She may have also mentioned that she personally didn’t find me annoying, and that helped, too.

A few years ago, I was freaking out over my (lack of) health insurance coverage. I sent out an SOS email to a few close friends, detailing my woes. Amazingly, none of them had an extra $5 grand lying around to send me. And none of them had a cousin named Tony who could go up to the insurance company and break some knees. But each and every one of the emailed back that day with a hilarious response, most of which are not appropriate for mass internet publication. Let’s just say in one of the emails I received this picture. It’s a long story as to why, but in short, it made me feel better.

I try to be a compassionate person. I’m not likely to be the one changing your tire or writing a huge check. I’m more likely to show my compassion through a homemade raspberry-fudge torte or an aptly-timed Hallmark card. I’m probably not going to show up pull you out of a window or give you directions (with my sense of direction, that would just be mean). I’ve got to stick with what I have to offer, with who I am.

I’m reading a new book right now, called Simple Compassion. In each chapter the author (a Wheaton grad!) details a different aspect of compassion. And the first chapter, oddly enough, is about the power of a well-timed word. At the end of the chapter, she challenges her readers to spend the week looking for an opportunity to show compassion by simply saying something. Something encouraging, something challenging, something loving. 

So now I’m challenging you, my awesome readers, with your own personality and circle of influence, to feel someone’s pain this week and take a minute (or two, or three) each week out of your hectic January to think about how you can make a difference to them. And if you’re really, really brave, I’d love to hear your stories! Leave them in the comments or email me at alittlewhineandcheese AT gmail.com.

If you’re curious about this Compassion Challenge, which is going on all over the internet with the release of the book, check out some of the other sites below.

Admissions of a Suburban Philosopher
Be Your Best Mom
Bell Whistle Moon
Blog Tour Spot
Book Nook Club
Carlybird’s Home
CommuniKate
Deus E Fiel
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
i don’t believe in grammar
J’s Spot
Lighthouse Academy
Mary’s World
Musings
Musings by Lynn
Paper Bridges
Ponderings by Andrea
Real Women Scrap
Scraps and Snippets
The 160-acre Woods
The Prairie Maid
The Unadorned Book Review
The View From Here
Word Up Studies
Writer for a Reader

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6 Responses to “I Feel Your Pain”

  1. rachelle January 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    compassion is laughing at someone when you are pretty sure they are too drugged up to remember it 😉
    and taking their kids for them… when you are pretty sure they are too drugged up to remember it.

  2. Sars January 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Very funny, Rachelle. But also very true. You should take that stuff more often, we’d have a LOT of fun with you.

  3. LJ January 9, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    You do NOT look like a hippo and you are not helpless, even if you feel like you may be. You are a sharpening stone to me friend!

  4. Grandma Anderson January 9, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    Grandpa Anderson says that before having been able to read your missive in the computer today, he sent something appropos to you and Big Daddy by U.S Mail.
    Could the Lord have been at work?

  5. spaghettipie January 11, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    Hey friend – thanks for participating. Love the way you made it your own!

  6. wee January 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    hmmm prophetic dreams…a very special baby and a very special family xoxoxo

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