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Authentic Compassion

I am reading a book that a former staff member blessed me with called: Here and Now by Henri Nouwen. An excerpt out of the book is called "From Competition to Compassion".

"Compassion - which means, literally, 'to suffer with' - is the way to the truth that we are ourselves, not when we differ from others, but when we are the same."
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"It is not "excelling" but "serving" that makes us most human. It is not proving ourselves to be better than others but confessing to be just like others that is the way to healing and reconciliation."

I have found the purpose of my ministry is to find a place where I am the same as the people I am working with. I may talk to men and women who struggle with addictions either to alcohol, drugs, etc. I may meet children who are lacking material needs. On the outside I may not be struggling with addictions or lack material needs, but just because those addictions are visible and the material needs are visible - does that change the fact that I struggle with internal addictions and internal desires? I struggle with self worth, self reliance, etc. It is an addiction of mine to undermine the worth that He has set for me. I have a common bond of addiction with the men I am speaking with. The love and the compassion that the men or women I meet is the same love and compassion I desire to obtain. I feel sometimes the internal addictions and needs are sometimes harder to overcome than the external. If we create an equal playing ground and obtain the love we need from each other, satisfaction and deeper communion and fellowship are the results.

Last week at a ministry site I was talking to a man named Johnathan, 25 years old. He has been in and out of the Cook County Jail and in and out of prison. He has found redemption through Christ. He used to struggle with anger, and He has been redeemed. A couple years ago I also went through a really angry phase in my life. I began to tell Johnathan how hard it was for me to overcome that anger and how I continue to have to die to myself everyday in order to be freed from the anger. He told me about a verse in the Bible that talks about how when we overcome and addiction or any sort of uncleanliness in our lives, if that unclean spirit is ever let back in, it comes back seven times worse than the first. It really hit me that the verse he read was what my life is looking like to this day. My Lord placed Johnathan in my life in order to speak truth to me.

"Compassion, to be with others when and where they suffer and to willingly enter into a fellowship of the weak, is God's way to justice and peace among people." - Henri Nouwen

-Julie, CSM Chicago City Host Summer 2008