Compassion Is My Touchstone

“Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy…, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.”
Yehuda Berg

I read this quote and immediately wrote it down in my notebook. This is what I have been living. This is what I need to remember. This is what breaks my heart.

Hurt people hurt people.

Leah described her feelings so eloquently. She said, “Mommy, my heart feel like it cooking. It so hot inside my heart. And I say mean words because my heart is so hot. If I do not say mean words, my heart maybe cook all up.”

You understand exactly what she means, don’t you? Her little heart is just starting to deal with a lifetime of hurt. How does she process that? How does she handle the whirlwind of emotions that was unleashed when she stopped ignoring her past?

Some days are better than others. Some hours are better than others. I do not want to make it sound like we are constantly dealing with crisis, but sometimes it feels like we are constantly on the verge of a crisis. Sometimes Leah’s hurt spills out in angry words. Words directed at her brothers, her sisters, her mom and dad. Words directed at the people she feels the safest being real with. Words directed at people she is hoping will love her no matter what she says.

Meet contempt with compassion.

I see myself responding in un-loving ways. I feel my anger building. I taste the bitter words on the end of my tongue. Most of the time I have swallowed those words before I have unleashed them. Sometimes I have not.

The phrase I repeat to myself when I feel like responding with anger is….compassion is my touchstone.

Respond with compassion. Respond with grace. Respond with love. Even when it is hard.

And through all of the mess, surrounding all of the storms, supporting and sustaining the peace we are searching for is God’s all-sufficient love.

We are blessed to be able to parent these children. We are blessed to be able to share our lives and our hearts with them. We are blessed to have been chosen to be their family.

I mean that. With everything within me.

Yesterday, as I was waiting in my van to pick Leah up after school, I watched her walk across the parking lot toward me. Her beaded braids were swinging underneath a pink crocheted hat. Her backpack was slung loosely over one shoulder. Her thin legs were hurrying to join the family. Her beautiful face was smiling.

It is like a snapshot in my head.

And as I watched her, I felt a stab of wonderment pierce my heart. How was it that this child from half a world away, from a completely foreign set of life experiences, from a country and a culture so different from my own… was it that this child came to be MY child? How did I get so blessed?

It was God. And it was His plan to create our perfect family from 8 very un-perfect people.

Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. Isaiah 8:18

Thank you, God, for giving me these children.



Here is proof of a little progress – a note I found from Leah one evening.