Friday, April 5, 2013

A Vow of No Pity

  Yes, I am vowing before God and all the internet to have no pity!

  No pity for homeless people. No pity for those struck by tragedy. No pity for my foster daughter. No pity for my own children. No pity for no one or no thing no how!
I pity the fool who shows pity!
  My reason is not that I am a heartless troll who does not care but that pity has no purpose. Let me explain before you go searching for where I live so you can string me up by my toes. 

  The definition of pity is just having a feeling of sympathy for someone or something. Now, ask yourself when has someone else's feelings ever accomplished a single fruitful thing? Pity only justifies our own thinking and reassures us that we are good people. Really?

  Pity pats a person on the back and  says, "So sorry you are where you are," then it walks away. The only thing left behind is a confirmation that things really are as bad as they seem. Christians can not EVER legitimately do this because Christ's sacrifice screams hope. And yet, so many times we pity and leave the broken with a license to continue wallowing. Personally, I do not need or want that.
Look at you stuck there. How did that happen? That is terrible.

   It is so very easy to pity but how does that help?

  Instead of pity, I vow to have compassion. The definition of compassion is the same as pity, "to have a feeling of sympathy," but with an important addition, "accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate suffering." It includes action. Compassion is work and sacrifice. Compassion loves a person where they are but is not willing to leave them there. Jesus practiced it all the time. Look at the woman caught in adultery in John 8:

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

  Jesus did not pat her back and say, "Poor baby, this is awful." Pity is not a tool God uses. Jesus first removes those that were acting wickedly and then he helps her move into a life of hope. Jesus is the only one who can move a person from their bad choices into hope with just a few words but that does not remove our responsibility to show compassion. As believers who are not perfect, we must rely on God to work  through us, learn how to rightly present Truth to others, and commit time to the work. If we could walk up to a drug addict and just say, "Go and sin no more," we would glorify ourselves. We would learn nothing of the power and grace of God nor would we love that person. Christ can love immediately because He is God and we are his creations. We, on the other hand, are bent more towards judging and hating. Think about Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan. Sadly, the commitment is why most of us choose the easier road of pity. 
This is helping you, right? Because I certainly feel better
    This lesson hit me in the face after a meeting and our required training for foster care. The system that pulls children out of neglect and abuse has set itself up to foster pity for the children. In return the children are never learning how to overcome the challenges in their life. Foster parents are given a contradictory message, "Set rules and boundaries and be firm in enforcing them but they can't help their behavior." Basically, the system sees them as disabled. What I see is a disservice to the children.

  We went into the meeting as a family confused and frustrated as to how to help this child and were told that we were pushing too hard. When we tried to explain that all we want is to make sure she doesn't fail school and to be able to confront issues when they happen, they told us that we could do that. Ok, we thought the meeting was to learn how to do it. Our foster daughter has told us that she does not want our help and there is nothing we can do to her when she acts out. The only suggestion they gave us was to have each person talk at dinner about their day and say something nice about everyone at the table. Ummm, surface level talk is not a problem, that is all we do unless we want an explosion.

   As my husband and I mulled over the meeting and training, we came to the realization that we care for this girl, enough so that we want her to move forward and be able to function in society. We are not asking her to call us mom and dad or pushing her to tell us all about her past. When we met her, we saw a child who needed a chance to be a child and learn how to be an adult.The window of opportunity is small. She will be 18 in a little over a year.

  We resolve to tell her to take steps forward with us. We resolve to teach her to be responsible even if she hates us in the process.

  I will not tell her that her life is awful and go on my way because I know Hope and He died to give us the gift of new life. If He had only lived as a man to pity us, then we would truly be in a wretched state. Instead of miracles, Jesus would have traveled around giving out sad smiles and pats on the shoulder. He might have said, "God loves you, you poor, pitiful creature" and then returned to heaven burdened by our hopeless state. Praise Him that He showed compassion instead.

John 10:9-10
 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  

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