Learning the Bittersweet: Compassion

Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash

This work with my father is full of pain and beauty at the same time. I watch my father struggle and fight the dementia.

It is bitter when he lashes out at me. It is sweet when he tells me he loves me. I am proud of my dad in how he doesn’t give up without a fight. He holds tight to his sanity. In the midst of the struggle I am finding God’s compassion for my father. God loves him with such care it is hard to comprehend.

I can just barely grasp the beauty of compassion of the Father. He walks with me through what I can only describe as the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4 KJV). There is no one else my dad can complain or lash out to except me and my husband. But, there is only one who has the compassion my dad needs. That is the one true God. It is God who brings peace through his compassion. Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord is Peace. [Ref: Safe in the Shepherds Arms, by Max Lucado]

I am practicing my faith by honoring my father. But pulling up my compassion is hard. I’m doing my best to remember he needs my compassion and love. As I soothe his worries and take care of the business details of his life, I remind myself to keep my heart soft towards my dad whose mind has been broken.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Does it hurt to stay compassionate towards someone I love who blames me, and some days cannot tell me he loves me. Oh yeah! It cuts deep. There was someone else who was accused while innocent. He was beaten and ridiculed for bringing a message of life, love and hope from the King his Father. His compassion knows no bounds. Unlike my little growing compassion, his has no limits, never will.

I am learning to hold the knowledge of Jesus’ compassion close to my heart. Jesus was innocent of all crimes. Yet in His compassion for us He took the lashes, the spitting and curses. He took the blows. Beaten to the point of exhaustion He dragged the cross. Why? Because He knew the ramifications of His sacrifice were so much greater than the hours and years spent here on earth.

I try to be like Jesus, forgiving and compassionate. I at least I’m starting to get it somewhat. Better late than never! I’m still working at rejecting the pain I feel when I am the target. My mind is beginning to understand dad’s frustration. Understand his need to lash out at someone. Recognize the fact that he can’t process the emotion or control his thoughts.

I was the one who made the decision to move him after his doctor’s recommendation. In his mind all of the changes, including the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, must be Milly’s fault. I don’t know yet how Jesus got past that part. I don’t have that knowledge. The beautiful thing with Jesus’ compassion is He did get past our rejection and hate. He still went through with God’s plan for salvation.

The Latin root of our word ‘compassion’ means “to suffer with.” [www.collinsdictionary.com]. Finding this word root gave me more understanding. I suffer with (compassion) dad on this journey through the shadowy world of dementia. As we walk day by day, Jesus suffers with (compassion), my dad and I as dad makes his transition to be with God.

The Lord’s compassion for just us ordinary folk is bittersweet. It is both sad and joyful. Sad that we have to suffer to see the compassion of our Higher Power; Joyful in knowing our God loves us this much. In compassion the bitter is the suffering with us. Compassion is suffering. Suffering is bitter.

However, compassion is sweet in knowing we do not walk this path alone. The compassion gives us the strength to overcome the trial and move to victory. And you know what victory is…Sweet!

Keep firmly in your mind, your Higher Power’s bitter suffering is with you as you walk together. Keep moving with Him toward sweet victory!


Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

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