When I make a mistake I am quick to brush it off and give myself grace.
(Are you like that too? Maybe this is why Jesus tells us to forgive as we have been forgiven.)
Am I instead training them to think of themselves more highly then they ought?
Am I instead giving a subconscious lesson in how to blame others for personal missteps?
Personal responsibility and compassion are both traits I pray my children possess.
Personal responsibility is easier to teach. Natural consequences and daily life tend to be the best teachers. But compassion? How do we train our kids to embrace this quality?
Recently my pastor gave a sermon about Jesus and his compassion. How he wept over a friend’s death, how he met the Samaritan woman at the well, how he went to a sinner’s home.
All these events were driven by his love, demonstrated in his compassion.
“Sometimes in this fallen world, the best thing we can do is to teach our children how to be sad.”
I love this quote from James K. A. Smith’s book, You Are What You Love.
Let’s think about Mr. Smith’s thoughtful words a moment.
To move our kids to compassion we need to do what Jesus did, experience emotion by walking in another’s shoes. To remember that each individual is loved by and created by the Creator. Jesus literally walked in our shoes by taking on flesh. We can gain compassion by first experiencing grief and sadness ourselves then applying to circumstances other people are going through.
Empathy draws us closer to one another. Empathy can unify us. Empathy participates in another’s healing process. Empathy is a necessary quality for relationships in a fallen world.
By not rescuing our kids and not solving their problems and instead allowing them to feel sadness, disappointment, discouragement, and grief we are giving our kids a gift. The gift of tenderness, understanding, and empathy. All these things are learned through personal struggle or even loss.
I agree with James K.A. Smith that teaching our children how to be sad is one of the best things we can do while living together on a planet inhabited by fallen people.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
mom of four, wife to Tom