After reading The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, I am renewed in my understanding of who God is and who he is not. One large take away from Nouwen is how he says that God's only authority is his compassion. It's almost a double take. How does a God, the maker of the world only rule by compassion. Compassion is love and grace and mercy. And these are God in actuality. But what is compassion?
Compassion isn't engagement enmeshment. A friend once told me that compassion can simply be putting a blanket on a drunk family member and then stepping over them. One can't force a person to see the beauty of good things, of God, of better relationship, of better coping mechanisms.
Compassion is making sure you are fed so that you don't lash out at your children. It somehow is easier to hurt yourself to be holy than to help yourself or another so that you are actually closer to God.
Compassion is also making sure you get what you need to be a whole person. That can be assurance, food, rest, a shower, all those things that we want for our children that we too need.
I realize perhaps I need more compassion for myself in all this. I had to make hard decisions and walk away from some pretty tough things for me. I struggle often to know with myself that its okay to be okay. That its okay to be able to have time to rewire my brain to know that good can come of my decisions, not just ill judgment. To have compassion is to somehow really know that I am doing okay and be surrounded by people that can be that for me.
I started and finished this many days apart, many of them searching for God in the cracks this Lent. I know he's there, I've felt him there, but somehow we are still learning how to really know him at least in this season of life where everything feels backwards. But I think there can be compassion in the growth too, there's got to be. I don't want to worship a God that wouldn't let me grow, so I'll choose to believe he wants me to.