It's true that there's always something to be learned in life. Whether you believe that life is about God giving you lessons, or you giving yourself lessons, or whether you don't believe in a higher power at all, there's no denying that there's always something you can choose to learn from whatever you're going through. But here's the thing - that's true regardless, and sometimes people don't really want to be reminded of it. Sometimes that's the last thing in the world they want to hear. Sometimes all they need is an ear to hear them and a shoulder to cry on.
Compassion is about opening your heart to another person. It's about letting that person be who they are in that moment and accepting them fully, regardless of your own feelings and your own expectations and ideas about how life works. When we're compassionate, we put ourselves in a place of openness to another, and it is from that place that we can exercise discernment. Compassionate discernment is what helps us determine what it is that a person needs in times of suffering - do they need advice, some encouraging words, or just a hand to hold?
It's lovely when we are solid in our faith in what life's all about, but when we try to put that on others without thought for their experience in that moment - even if their faith is the same as ours - we lack compassion. To be compassionate, we need to open our hearts to the experience of another and sense what it is that would be most helpful in that moment - for them, not for us, and for that moment: What might be helpful for them in one instance might be the last thing they want to hear in another. To be compassionate, we need to be sensitive to that.
I'm not sure what drew me to write about all this today. Perhaps there's someone who needs to hear this message. I think it's pretty common for us to want to comfort others in ways we, ourselves, like to be comforted, but sometimes that's not what's best for the person we're wanting to help. Our hearts are what connect us on the deepest levels, and so in times of suffering it is our hearts that speak the loudest, not our heads. Our hearts hold our deepest wisdom: Sometimes they speak the thoughts of our heads, and other times they are just still. When we come from a place of compassion, we are connected to that wisdom, and it is from that wisdom that healing begins.