Finding compassion for someone who doesn't deserve it
Like many people, I imagine you’ve been hurt by someone a time or two in your life. If that’s the case, I think you can agree with this statement - there’s a big difference between someone who has hurt your feelings versus someone who has genuinely betrayed you and deeply hurt you.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in revenge, bitterness, or pure anger directed toward that particular person (or people). But as many of us know, unforgiveness hurts us, not them.
So how do you find compassion for someone that has genuinely wronged you in a big way?
1. Understanding your true identity, helps you understand others
Okay, so I will preface with this - I truly loathe when things are “overly spiritual.” (Which is a blog post for another day…) But I say that because I want you to hear my heart in this. It isn’t to sound “churchy” or “say the right Christian thing” but out of a place of authenticity.
When you truly know who you are in God’s eyes, it gives you the freedom to see others the same way.
If I truly believe in my heart that I’m loved, adored, chosen and cherished by God - and live from the position of that truth… then it makes it a lot easier to believe God says those same things about my enemies.
Anytime I feel my heart start toward the direction of resentful hatred of someone who has hurt me; I’ll repeat to myself what God says about me, then I’ll repeat those same things about the other person.
2. Get pissed
You’re not doing anyone any favors by pretending you’re not angry at the person that’s hurt you. It isn’t the “righteous, humble, or Christian” thing to do.
I believe it’s a disservice to yourself and to God to pretend so.
As many people know, the Psalms are filled with laments, anger, and curses towards those who’ve wronged David. Honestly, those verses have helped me through some pretty difficult seasons.
My journal was filled with cries of justice and anger at the wrong that had been done. And you know what? It felt so freeing! I was honest about my pain, and when we’re honest about our pain, God can heal. When we pretend that it’s not there, then our hands aren’t open, and we can’t authentically hand the pain to God to allow healing to usher in.
Eventually, there came a day when the Lord quietly whispered to my soul, “it’s time.” And I knew from that moment forward I had release all the anger and anything beyond that would start turning my heart towards bitterness.
See, being angry isn’t a sin. Nor is expressing it. (With some exceptions, of course. i.e., you’re blowing up at someone and degrading them. But that’s not what we’re talking about here).
I realized after the season of expressing my anger that I was then able to get honest with God about the fear and pain that was underneath that anger. Without getting real about how I was feeling, I would have never landed in the sweet spot of freedom, forgiveness, and compassion.
Which leads me to my next point…
3. Find a reason to have empathy for that person
This one comes with time. At least for me, it did. To try and find compassion for someone after they have recently hurt you isn’t super realistic. But over time, as you’re working through the process of forgiveness, you can start choosing to have compassion.
Because I work with a lot of Christians, I also see a lot of sick things that have happened in the church. Abuse is certainly on the front lines. Maybe that’s why I hate over-spiritualization so much, I’ve seen too many people abused by so-called “Christians” who profess Jesus, but because of their actions, it’s safe to assume their hearts are evil.
With that, an example of having compassion could go something like this:
Say you have a parent, church leader, or another influential person who has inflicted abuse on you in some form or fashion that falls into this category. A potential way of having compassion for this person may sound like this, “He/she professes Jesus, but their actions point to evil. I know Jesus. I know peace. My heart breaks for this person. He/she professes Jesus, and they speak about peace, but based on their behavior - it is clear they have no peace. He/she has to manipulate others to maintain the persona. That must be torturous to be putting on a show constantly and never truly to know the goodness of God that you regularly profess.”
Now that could look different based on your specific circumstances, but you get the idea. Find empathy for something in that person that you can cling to when you’d honestly prefer punching them in the face ;)