Yesterday I shared my friend Ty Walls with you. Funny thing happened after I hit publish on that post. I went to Facebook and sent him a message that I had written about him and I sent him the link. Then, I noticed he had posted a Facebook status stating that he was trying to cheer himself up with a Mickey Mouse omelet and in a comment to that update he said it had also begun to rain. A bit later he responded to my message and I knew I had made a small difference in his day. And that made me feel awesome. I hadn’t meant for that to happen. I just wanted to do something nice for someone who really does deserve All The Good Things. But that’s the thing about compassion and selflessness…the giver usually receives a gift as well as the receiver. What makes it all the more sweeter is when it’s from the heart.
Sincerity. Sacrifice. Giving without expecting a return. In today’s society we are all after the instant gratification, the return for our investment, or the gratitude for our thoughtfulness. Why? When did we become a culture that puts more emphasis on being selfish and looking out for Number 1 instead of someone else? When did our first thoughts become about what we get instead of what we give to others? Is that what we want to see when we are faced with the choices we’ve made in this life?
I have always been a big reader. The first books I remember having an influence on my life were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I tried so hard to be like little Laura, and I remember taking to heart the lessons Ma and Pa taught her and her sisters. But soon I grew out of those and into Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys as well as the rest of her stories (yes, she has A LOT more). Among her collected works is a book called Jack and Jill as well as Eight Cousins. Both books deal with teens and to this day both of those books are my favorites, more than Little Women. The stories make take place in a time that is so different from the world I was growing up in. Yet, the similarities were startlingly strong. I learned about true sacrifice from Eight Cousins, and Jack and Jill showed me how rash decisions made because of pride can lead to a situation you never thought would occur. Words have power. I’m so glad mine touched my friend’s heart yesterday, and if you read the comments, his wife was able to read them, too. The people we love are so important and it’s nice when we see that their actions are seen and felt, that the awesomeness we see in them is recognized by others we don’t even know. That’s how I feel whenever I and told about something fantastic my sons have done that I am unaware of. Last year, Jack (who’s 10 now) received an award from his school for outstanding compassion. I did have literal tears in my eyes when I saw that. I am happy when any of my kids receive awards for reading or running so many miles in this event or for being on the honor roll. That’s all great and awesome, but an award for showing compassion…man. Now THAT’S a parenting win you can’t ever take away.
Today I am sharing with you another friend of mine. Now, I am going to warn you, Terese comes across very direct, very blunt, and very strong. She is not afraid to be who she is. Her views reflect that. It’s because of who she is that makes me respect and admire her. I have known Terese since junior high. We went through high school together, too, which is where we became friends. In many ways, it’s a friendship that shouldn’t have worked because we were total opposites. I was shy and quiet; Terese was bold and loud. I was bookish; Terese…not so much. And yet, somehow we saw past the differences. We weren’t close but I knew that if I needed someone to sit with at lunch, I was always welcome to sit with her.
The one thing about Terese that stood out, that you couldn’t ignore when you first met her, was the mark on her neck. It was a huge discoloration and it was one of the first things you noticed. Now, I don’t know for sure but I am certain it caused her a lot of heartache at a time when how we look is really important to us. I am human. I saw it, too. But I also saw warm brown eyes, a smile that made you feel good, and that direct honesty that I appreciate so much. Terese had a heart of gold back then, and still does to this day. As with Ty, I keep up with Terese through Facebook. (I am not really a Facebook fan but I will say this about it: it has been a saving grace with being able to keep up with family and friends who you can’t see every day.) One of the things about Terese is that she hasn’t changed all that much from the girl I used to know. And that’s a good thing. She is still direct and honest, her brown eyes are still as warm as ever, and that smile…it still makes me feel good all over. But what I am happiest to see is that she hasn’t let life get her down. I’ve read about some of the trials she has gone through and I am just amazed at the strength of her faith and her love.
One of the things that stands out about Terese is her compassion. Every summer since we became Facebook friends she posts updates reminding everyone to go check on neighbors who are elderly, to make sure they have water or food, and to make sure to take care of animals while you’re at it. She also sends these reminders before ice storms. The elderly, people who we tend to forget about, she reminds us to think about them and make sure we take care of the ones who took care of us. Then, there are the animals. Terese is constantly posting pics of animals that need to be adopted and rescued. She reminds us of the innocent ones who can’t help themselves but are punished for our bad decisions. And her compassion is an every day thing. When I asked her if she would mind writing an essay on compassion for me, she did not hesitate to say yes, though her writing skills are lacking (or so she says). This is a woman who took time out of her Valentine’s weekend to write a post on compassion. For me. Because I asked. This is a very awesome lady.
So, here is her essay.
“Compassion and what it means to me by Terese Goodwin Bradley
Compassion is a feeling that I live every day of my life. I am grateful that my family values compassion in our lives.
I for one have been taught to treat others with compassion for you never know what struggles that someone is going through. I have had many issues in my life including: having my 6 month old son kidnapped, death of very close family members, death of my animals, cancer, and life threating disease. I can say that I have learned to overcome (not forget) any of the above. I was raised in a Christian home and do believe that with the power of the Lord in my life He does, and will continue to, walk beside me. There is a saying that God does not give us nothing that we can not handle. Sometimes I want to yell, curse, hit things, but I have to step back and think “Is that what the Lord would want me to do?”
I have compassion for many people because some like to walk with their heads held high and make it like their life is perfect. Well, no life is perfect in any way.There are people that have a lot of HATE in their lives because they choose that way. Those are the people that need help and can be shown that HATE is NOT a way of life. Unfortunately, these are the people that like to bully and hurt people because they are not happy with life. I am one for not taking prescription drugs for feelings, but you would think that they could find someone to talk with and let all their anger out. Unfortunately, there are people, in many cases, that think that ending their lives is the only way. I wish there could be more non-profit charities (to get the word out about themselves) to help those in need.
I also have compassion for all the babies, elderly and animals. There are people out there that hurt these innocent lives. They think “Oh, we can’t take care of them.” I hate that that happens. For one, a baby has no way to take care of themselves and depends on the parents to feed and love them. Elderly people have lived lives and have made it to an age that they need help caring for themselves. Animals, just like babies and the elderly, need us to care for them. I think the people that can not help with the above three should seek help. God put on us this earth to care for one another and each and every animal.
Again, I am grateful that I have surrounded myself with positive people who have the same values and appreciate them as much as I do. I do wish that everyone in the world could see that compassion is a great feeling. It will help you very much under any kind of stressful event that may come into your lives.”
Thank you Terese for writing this for me. Keep sending those reminders out. Someone does read them and pays attention.
P.S. Another video follows.
Can Compassion Be Trained Or Taught?