I’ve never seen myself as a compassionate person. Yes, there are things I’m passionate about, and I very much feel my feelings, but for years, I’ve wanted a heart of compassion from God. Prayed and prayed. I thought that one day, God would miraculously open my eyes and I’d perch atop fluffy clouds to peer down benignly on His people.
That never came.
On December 31st, as I mulled over the last year, God reminded me that although His ways are not my ways, He is always working in me:
Last year, I struggled with personal unrealistic standards justified under the guise of God’s expectations. I can only be a testimony if my life reflects the beliefs of this certain society. As chaining as it sounds, I worried that letting go of these standards created by people would damage my usefulness to God.
But I let go.
That summer, God allowed a situation into my life — one I never considered possible because it was beyond the boundaries of my fairly creative imagination. Yet it happened and there I was, asking God okay, but what next when someone I can’t stop loving is placing their desires above You and all else. For months after, I battled feelings of betrayal, mistrust, confusion, and disgust. I told God to hurry up and do something. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there. I cried in class.
But I let it be.
In the fall, my college life altered. Before then, my free time was devoted to my college fellowship. Events, proxies, meetings, outreaches – you name it, I was probably there. I “didn’t have time” for classmates; I “didn’t have time” to talk to nonbelievers unless I was inviting them to some fellowship event. But after the summer, all I could attend schedule-wise were the weekly gatherings. And I felt led to walk alongside others. I began studying with classmates, going to social events with students, and hanging out with people who thought God about as alive as Barbie. I felt guilty sometimes – my fellowship brothers and sisters occasionally asked me why I would choose “those people” over them. Yet I knew God wanted me to know this new group as people – real, humorous, desperate, whacky, loving people. Sometimes I didn’t have anything to say. Sometimes I was irritated with the things they did. Sometimes I wished for the comfort of being constantly with believers.
But I let them in.
And looking back on 2014, I know God slipped just a little more compassion into this heart of mine.
Jesus is the greatest example of compassion. He chose to descend to Earth and become as us. He knew that the greatest love is not to weep and wail over newspaper tragedies displayed on a fancy screen but to understand and experience.
God gave me a chance to release my unnecessary standards and realize I’m just as stinkin’ unworthy as everyone else. He let me love those I do not want to love but cannot help but love. And He brought me to stand on level ground among the people He has never not loved. I am no better; we are not invincible; they are real people. I struggled into compassion.
Instead of gifting me a poofy cloud, God handed me a front-row experience. Instead of a miraculous transformation, God gave me a personal journey. Instead of calling me to love from afar, God said “stand here and hold their hand”.
I still lack enough care to pray for someone every time I say I will. I still ignore articles on racial injustice and tragedies overseas. But I know that as I continue to ask God for His heart, He will continue to give it to me.
And for that, every year is monumental.