How does compassion lead to forgiveness, you might wonder. Compassion is defined by Webster as sorrow felt for another’s suffering or troubles, coupled with an urge to help in some way, deep sympathy. They also say pity, yet, I believe we don’t have to pity another in order to have compassion For me, it manifests as very soft and tender thoughts for another, often coupled with a deep knowingness of or wanting to understand one’s troubles so I can offer help of some sort.
Compassion leads to forgiveness when we recognize how we have done the very thing for which we are angry at or hurt by another. This powerful realization happened to me. I was doing a self-appraisal of all my relationships, and I recognizd I used to get drunk and yell at my partner at the time how worthless they were, that they wouldn’t amount to anything.
I was horrified to remember this! I didn’t mean those things I said. I was feeling badly about myself, which is what prompted the words in the first place. Then I realized they were the very words that were told to me as a child. I began to wonder if the person who uttered them to me also felt badly about himself at the time he yelled those words.
I felt compassion for myself, for the deep-seated feelings of worthlessness that led me to say these wounding words. Suddenly, I saw the man who said those words to me, as a suffering human being, hurting like I hurt, lashing out like I lashed out. I had great compassion for both of us, both wounded souls. I began to realize that I would like forgiveness in this situation, and believed that to be true for my perpetrator, as well. I softened to both of us, and brought forth all the compassion I could muster. I understood why the words were said. They had nothing to do with me or my worth. Years of hurt and pain were washed away, as my compassion gave way to forgiveness.
So tell me, how does compassion lead to forgiveness in your life? Does it? Can it if you look with compassion?