Failing Compassion

Today I want to speak about something I hate.

Taking responsibility for my actions.

To say I’m sorry, it’s my fault.

Usually, I like to just make up excuse after excuse until the accuser gives in and doesn’t make me truly apologize. But, today I want to do things differently. I want to start taking responsibility for what I do or say wrong,  instead of ignoring it. It’s time to stop shining a light on things I do well and focus instead on the selfishness of my own human nature.

Brigitte was a month and half when she came to Tara and Jorge’s. She was underweight, had cleft lip, a pupil that looked as if it was melting, and a condition known as imperforate anus, which means she was born without an anus and her poop (which was much more like diarrhea at the time) came out of an intestinal tube coming out of her stomach. When I first saw her, I wanted to cry. When I saw her stomach tube, I wanted to puke. When I looked at this child as a whole, I couldn’t see any beauty.

I wanted to force myself to love her. Force myself to have compassion for her. I knew Tara was having a hard time with doing her job, taking care of her entire family, and taking care of Brigitte. I decided to take care of Brigitte one afternoon in hopes that I’d be able to accept and love her. Boy, was I mistaken. I barely lasted an hour with sweet, little Brigittte. Her cleft lip made it extremely hard to feed her bottles, her face wasn’t something I wanted to look at, she cried every five minutes, and changing her diaper nearly made me vomit.

Having Lizzi and Brigitte definitely would’ve been overwhelming whether Brigitte was adorable or not, but I know I would’ve tried harder or loved more if she wasn’t handicapped. It’s a hard truth to swallow, but I want to accept responsibility for it. I could not love Brigitte because I could not see passed her faults. I couldn’t handle her condition, and I couldn’t see her beauty. It wasn’t fair for my compassion to stop because of handicap. After that one afternoon, I stopped offering assistance with Brigitte.

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Thankfully, Michelle, who’s going to be starting a transition home for ROOM, came down for two weeks to help with Brigitte. She had amazing patience and loved Brigitte far more than I ever could. Brigitte eventually ended up moving in with a new foster family after Michelle left, and has been thriving ever since. A few days ago she went in for her imperforate anus surgery, and she’s making a great recovery! She’s such a chunky little cutie, and it hurts my heart that I ever thought otherwise of her. It hurts to so bad to think that my own selfish judgments got in the way of knowing such a complete sweetheart.

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I can’t help but to think all of the times I’ve done that in my life. Not getting to know the “weird” kid in class just because others didn’t accept him. Not stopping to make a chat with a homeless man because he was dirty and stinky. Not volunteering in other parts of town because they were known as “ghetto”. Not making friends with freshman because it wasn’t cool. Not spending time in the special needs room at Nueva Esperanza because it made me uncomfortable. Not rolling down my window to chat with some older street children because I was scared.

There is no excuse for accepting some and rejecting most. Compassion does not have a limit, there is no line in which compassion should stop. It should not stop at a baby born without an anus, it should not stop at a child living on the street, it should not stop at the “weird” kid in class, it should not stop for anyone or anything. God didn’t call us to be compassionate until we can’t handle it, he called us to be compassionate like HIM. and we all know God has no breaking point. I’m so thankful that Brigitte’s family and Michelle are more compassionate and loving than I am. I’m so thankful for Jilli, who can still fully love and accept a child even after he steals her five hundred dollar camera and lies about it. I’m so thankful for Jenny, who started her own non-profit and works tirelessly to provide for the children of Honduras. I’m so thankful for Tara and Jorge who work day and night to fight for the babies who have no voice. I’m so thankful for Lauren, who spent a grueling four months fostering a very difficult child, never giving up on him despite how hard it was for her. I’m so thankful for people who’s compassion doesn’t stop, but overflows.

Where is your compassion ending today? What’s stopping you from extending a hand? Accept responsibility for your weakness, for your breaking point. Exceed your stress level, take in a baby without an anus. Compassion never fails, so why are you failing on your compassion?

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