Last month, my city received so much rain that certain roads had to remain closed weeks after the storm had passed. During a storm, it is so interesting to me how my family members and friends take time to call one another to make sure all is well on the other end of the line. The conversation, at least in my family, begins something like this:
Caller: "Are ya'll alright over there?"
You see, the thing about Houston, Texas is that it is so big that certain areas of town can get slammed with rains that cause what I'm going to name "call your insurance company flooding" while other areas get just enough water to wet the tires on your SUV. Even though I grew up in Texas and have lived here for several years as an adult, this phenomenon never ceases to amaze me. This is due, in part, because there has been more than one occasion when I've been able to not only turn on my kitchen appliances to cook a meal for my family during a storm, but have also turned on the television only to find that some members of the Houston community have gone hours (sometimes days) without electricity or have been forced from their homes due to high water.
For years, certain communities like mine have been the ones to look at the destruction caused by the floods from afar, untouched by the city's tragedy. A quick, "I'm so glad we're okay", is uttered right before we pick up with life as usual shortly after the storm has moved.
This year, however, something in Houston was very different. Suddenly, it seemed as though communities who had never experienced such flooding, were being shown on the news as being some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the city. Flooding typically seen in areas known to be flood zones arrived at the doorstep of those who for years, had felt protected from high waters caused by heavy rain.
As random, every day events usually do (one of my "weird" qualities that I have learned to love) this made me think about compassion --a word often taken for granted and used flippantly. Here's my summary of thoughts in a few words:
It never rains everywhere at one time.
See, there will be times when we will be in positions to help people impacted by circumstances that have never come knocking at our front door.
What will you do? Will you simply watch from afar and "pray" everything works out for them ? Will you, out of genuine concern for fellowman, do that which is in your power to help?
Let's follow this same question up with something that may cause you to think a little harder:
When it "rains" in your life, and you find yourself going through an unfamiliar and scary experience, what will be your hope? That those in positions to help you will simply pat you on the back and say, "I will be praying that everything works out" ?OR, that someone, whether friend, family, or stranger, will extend a helping hand toward you and encourage you through your situation in a manner that says, "I've been there. Let me help" ?
So often, we get caught up in in our own lives and interests that we forget our simple, human connection to others. I'm reminded of the poetic expression rendered by the late Reverend Martin Niemöller that came to be widely known for his "First they came..." poems (if you don't know about him, click on the link for a quick Wikipedia read). More eloquently than this blog post, his words nudge those who will listen, to remember that at one point in life, everyone may need someone to stand for them. While his justice-driven phrases have historic roots, the underlying message is key to understanding the importance of fostering compassion in everything we do. You see, just like in the city of Houston, in life, rarely does it rain on everyone's parade at the same time. Don't get so caught up in your "glad it wasn't me" mentality that you forget, simply put, that it may, one day BE YOU in a position of need because:
Keep in mind that we are all human and by default, we share experiences. If today, you have the power to help someone make it to their tomorrow, then do something. Say something. Share something that you have learned through your similar experience. In a nutshell:
Let someone borrow your umbrella for a while.
Don't live a life so consumed with yourself and your own that you forget your connection to those around you. Things are so much better, in my opinion, once we learn to compassionately help one another.