When I had gone through some similar heart wrenching experiences, I understood. It gave me the ability to have compassion.
Over and over again, through my own struggles, pains, illnesses or grief, the beautiful gift that has emerged – on occasion – is a more full and deep feeling of genuine caring and compassion for another who walks a similar path. Or goes through a similar dilemma. 1Peter 3:8 [and many other scriptures] counsel us to have compassion for one another. It seems to grow in us as we experience life’s ups and downs, and as we welcome more teaching and feeling of heavenly components in order to build ourselves as a spiritually healthy being.
A few examples of how compassion is grown and how it strengthens us follow:
When in 1995 a federal building was bombed in Oklahoma, an entire city seemed to be galvanized by the violence. Beautiful gifts of love and caring; of kindness and increased faith grew and were shared. At the gate to the memorial for that harsh event – which I was able to see and feel for myself (and it is powerful) – there are these words inscribed:
We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever.
May all who leave here know the impact of violence.
May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.
There were tears in my eyes as I wandered that beautiful, peaceful spot. The violence tore apart families and successfully created such destruction. But it did not destroy goodness, kindness, faith nor hope. And out of it came more tenderly compassionate people and acts.
A Woman of Compassion
This is my own experience. I pull it from a personal file of so very many beautiful people, good hearted friends, and valuable gift of compassion shown to me.
I was a young mother, very sick, and just home from having spent three weeks in the hospital. I had a baby daughter – just over a year old, very little money, little family support (my own mom had cancer and wasn’t able to do a thing even for herself), and not a lot of stamina – physically or spiritually.
But I had a visiting teacher. Marian was my personal little angel. A mom and grandmother herself, she taught me much about compassion as well as what a visiting teacher should be as we blessed my life with goodness.
Daily she would come over to bring something for our little family to eat, tend my daughter for a while during the time my husband was at work, and tend to me. As a loving mom would do, she would even run my bath water, help me into the tub, wash and dry my body, then lovingly dress me and help me back to bed.
For a long while, she just happened’ to drop in, checking on us and tending to me. From her, I gained a heart full of gratitude as I was learning the blessing of our visiting teaching program. Mostly, I learned how a truly compassionate person acts. It has forever impacted my life in good ways. Long in heaven now, Marian was a gift to me in many, long lasting ways. Because she was a woman of compassion.
Thomas Edison tried two thousand different materials in search of a filament for the light bulb. When not a one of them worked properly, someone said to him, “All our work has been for nothing. We have learned nothing.”
Mr. Edison kindly replied, “Oh, we’ve come a long way and have learned much. We now know that there are two thousand elements we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”
Of course, he was eventually successful in this wonderful invention of his. At one point, his entire building burned to the ground, and all the notes, experiments, and hard work went up in smoke. He simply began again.
I think Mr. Edison must have been a person of compassion, for he knew what it meant to experience loss and frustration.
Genuine compassion is a treasure to us, as individuals, as families and as communities. Our Savior, Himself, was moved with compassion and shared as much, with those he visited on the North American continent. [See 3 Nephi 17:6]
As we understand, gain and grow goodness, the effect of the Savior’s Atonement becomes more effective and more evident in the way we act toward one another. It seems as if we become more unified with our Father in Heaven and with our Savior, as we gain depth of feeling, and reach out to make a difference for good. What a blessing.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, and grandmother who joined the LDS Church as a teenager. She is a song writer, author, and public speaker. Her latest venture is www.goodnessmatters.com offering an online spot to share goodness and offer a bit of hope in simple, real ways.
She has taught Church youth & family programs for more than 25 years, has written books, hundreds of columns, and created hundreds of songs all with the intent of growing goodness and pointing people to Christ. She also writes for the website www.nauvootimes.com .
Vickey loves laughing and sharing the things that matter so much to her. And brownies. She teaches Gospel Doctrine in her ward. Her husband, Dean, serves in the bishopric. They are the parents of eight children and have seven grandchildren.