How do we extend self-compassion to ourselves when we are suffering? When we are failing at some corner of our life? When the creek is rising, and the rain is still coming down? In those messy moments of your life, and mine, when compassion is called for, how do we extend it to ourselves?
I invite you to recall a time when you experienced compassion from someone or when you extended it to someone. How did you feel the flow of compassion? Where in your body did you feel the compassion? What happened within you?
Not long ago an individual took umbrage with my thoughts on grace. As she let me know how wrong I was, I felt my back stiffen and my mind formulating how to correct her, set her straight, and win the day. (Crazy, right? All this about grace!) I waited for her to take a breath, so I could match her volume with my defense. But she continued to speak, and as I listened, something shifted within me. From a place deeper than my mind, I felt this odd sensation. My back relaxed, my mind cooled, and my heart warmed. Compassion flowed into my heart. Oh my, I felt a wonderful compassion for her, for me, and for our joint longing to know God. Compassion, with its transformational power blooming within me, replacing my defense with love. I had compassion not a defense.
When I need to recall how compassion feels and what it does, I return to that moment and linger in the compassion I experienced. In my mind’s eye, I return to the room, feel the God who holds us, and I linger in the compassion I felt that day. You too are invited to recall a time and place of compassion and extend it to yourself. For out of your self-compassion flows compassion for another.