by Restore Hope Executive Director Pam Congdon
Compassion: I want to define the word . . . Mr. Webster says it is "sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help: deep sympathy."
I want to give you my view on what Christian compassion should be. What if you were in a family where one of your family members sexually abused one or several of your other family members? Upon finding out the news, the shock and pain would be horrendous. It would put into place a series of circumstances and events that would change your life forever. The thoughts running through my head right now can't even comprehend the process a person would go through just to get to the next day. The cry for help would be so overwhelming . . . . . . yet, where do we get the help we need? The only real help would be the divine intervention of God's love, care, and healing powers. We can't out give God, but as Christians we should be able to do some things that will help. That's the area we need to explore.
As Christians we need to do a better job of helping people. We need to give them independence at times and come along side to go the distance with them when they need it. It's like a juggling act, and not knowing what they are really feeling just makes it harder to do anything. I think that's where Christians fall down on the job. We don't know what to do or say, so sometimes we just say nothing, avoid the person, or say 'I'll pray for you.' Of course praying for the person is the right thing to do, but it isn't the only thing to do.
Think about how you would feel in the same situation. Would you want your friends to start avoiding you because they didn't know what to say? No, of course not. Would you want people to look at you with sadness and then walk away because saying something might remind you about the situation? Remind you about it . . . that's crazy . . . as it's the only thing you think about 24/7, and you really just want to be hugged, spoken to with love, and hear the words 'I love you, what can I do to help.?'
Isolation becomes a big part of their lives. That definitely is not what they need. They need to be with people and do some of the normal things they did before the knowledge of abuse came to light. We need to come along side and go the distance. We need to talk the talk and walk the walk as it's almost impossible to sustain and promote healing without hand-in-hand support. We need to be responsible and do what we would like if we were in their shoes, and to think . . . What Would Jesus Do?
Our responsibility as Christian caregivers and helpers of those who are hurting can be enormous, yet, when it comes down to it, helping the person with what you would want yourself makes the most sense. Think of the things that make you feel the best when you are hurting. Is it music, reading the Bible, talking with a good friend, playing with a puppy, going for a hike? These things and more are what will get them through the hard times and to their next step in the healing process. It also helps to talk with someone who has lived similar circumstances so they don't feel they are crazy or the only one who has ever lived this kind of trauma.
Genuine love and support are what a survivor of a horrible experience really needs, and we can learn what steps we need to take to accomplish this. We need to help others see that everyone can help in whatever way they feel called to do. Ask yourself . . . What if it happened to me or to someone in my family? . . . What would I do and how would I feel?
Restore Hope is on a path to help others learn to respond with true, genuine, and helpful responses. Please help us follow God's leading by contributing to the mission of Restore Hope. We not only need finances but willing and loving volunteers who will come along side and learn how to respond and support children and families who have experienced sexual abuse. It's not only compassion we are really seeking to learn but how to show God's love to His children enabling them to grow into wise and mature adults. Time is the clue . . . it takes time to do all things and it needs to be in God's timing.
ITS TIME TO RESTORE HOPE.