“You can never plan your schedule around when someone is going to die.” These are the exact words I told many of my friends when my mother passed away. I wanted them to know I understood that they couldn’t be there and I knew they loved me.

My mother died on April 16, 2014, right before Easter. It was the week when many of my friends who had kids were on spring break and enjoying family trips. It was so sweet of the people who called to tell me they regretted not being able to come to my mom’s funeral. I certainly understood. That week was NOT the time that I would have been able to identify who really loved me and cared. Certainly it was a devastating time, filled with sadness and now, looking back, all a blur.

Burying my mom has continued to validate and teach me that “Nothing can happen through you until it happens to you.” Personal experience is key. Actually, it is the personal road of lacing your shoes and walking down a road you have never walked that teaches you….”Wow! That is what this is like!”

I can remember when Thomas was 5 and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a disease for which there is no cure. I learned an invaluable lesson about compassion and response. There were people who rushed to our side and extended a “compassion” I had NEVER experienced until then. People I never would have thought would do so responded to the pain of our devastation. Thomas was so young and so sick. He doesn’t remember the “OUTPOURING!” I wish he could. It makes me think of the book of Acts and the description of the early church. In chapter 4 it talks about how the believers took care of each other. Verses 32-37 describe how they did what was needed so “that there were no needy persons among them.”

It continued for months and years. Shortly after his diagnosis, when the shock had diminished and I could get my “legs” back, I sat up, literally all night, thanking God for the “flood of love and compassion”. At the same time, I also experienced “terrible regret” over my lack of compassion in the past for others in “times of pain!” But I have learned to thank God…for our storm. Because it happened to me…a “better compassion and response” can now happen through me! The same holds true in the days and years that are ahead, as I have now experienced the loss of my mom.

Point of post…it is simple…Pain is something that happens to everyone on the planet! Many times we can’t predict when or what but it is 100% for sure if you live…you will experience pain. We can become stuck in the pain. Trust me I am not referring to grief here. Grief is a natural process we all must walk through…and allow God to “carry us through,” but He also wants to weave into our hearts…which should lead to actions…a response of compassion for others…who experience pain. That is part of His plan…to help someone else walk in grief and pain…to help “carry the load,” shoulder the burden.

I often envision Moses during battle in Exodus 17. As long as Moses kept his hands in the air, the Israelites were winning. He grew weary. Verse 12 tells us, “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” What a picture of shouldering the burden! We all have times when we need an Aaron and a Hur in our lives, don’t we?

Let me give you just one example of “outpouring” I have experienced in recent days. Several months after my mother had passed, when I was able to be home more, I had a dear friend call. She expressed that she and others wanted to have a dinner at her house. They wanted to invite people over for a “Love dinner” to love on me after my mom’s death. Many who came were not able to come to the funeral. It did a beautiful thing to my heart!:) They lived out loud Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

On March 6 and 7, our church is hosting a women’s conference with break out sessions. Ladies in our church will lead classes on various topics such as “Navigating LIfe’s Unexpected Turns,” “Surviving Tragedy with God’s Strength,” “Living Life to the Fullest,” “Healthy Habits for a Thriving Faith,” “Growing Loving Relationships,” and “Leaving a Lasting Legacy”. I am so excited to be participating and speaking. The only regret I have is that the same group of ladies who have taught me the most about compassion are teaching at the same time that I am!

I encourage you, if you have not walked some of life’s paths of pain and would like to be a more “loving and compassionate person,” look to others around you. Learn from them and even ask them questions. We can all learn from others, especially the ones we can say this about, “Your actions are so loud I can’t hear what you are saying!” :))))

When you experience a “strong dose” of love during a time of pain…that is something you NEVER FORGET. The message I have experienced from others through their actions has contained a “piece of them!” Because they, too, have walked the path, they know how to minister to the hurting. Look for it. When you walk the path of pain, make note of how others minister to you. God wastes nothing. You never know when He may give you the opportunity to show compassion to another walking the path behind you.

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