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BE MOVED WITH COMPASSIONfeatured in LDS Living May/June 2012

Emily Freeman

May 21, 2012

It was a day my mom won’t ever forget. The phone call.  The news that her dear friend had delivered a baby.  Stillborn. 

Immediately, my mom received a prompting to go to the hospital.  When she walked into the room her friend looked up at her from the bed and through her tears she said, “I just feel so empty.” 

My mom searched for the right words to say and when none came she climbed into the hospital bed next to her friend, wrapped her arms around her, and together they cried.

Several days after that experience the husband of my mom’s friend came to our home to talk to my mom.  He told her, “What you did that afternoon changed my life.  So often we think to ourselves, I will give them some space, some time to heal, and we wait.  What made all the difference to my wife that day wasn’t anything you said, it was the fact that you were there that made all the difference.”

It was the succoring.  The weeping together, the arms outstretched, the heart swelling in compassion.

Recently I was reading in Moses and I stumbled across a verse that has occupied my mind.  “Wherefore Enoch knew…and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity.”  (Moses 7:41)

Today I have tried to focus my thoughts on the things I know…the family down the street whose dad just lost his job...the boy around the corner who needs a place to stay for a bit…the mother five houses down whose son is having major surgery on Tuesday…and I weep…and I want to stretch my arms and let my heart swell wide enough for my whole neighborhood.

I am coming to realize just the knowing, and the weeping, and stretching the arms wide, and heart swelling is not enough.  To succor means to run to.  To be there.

How do I know?

Because “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching…and healing every sickness and every disease among the people…when he saw…he was moved with compassion on them.”  (Matthew 9:35-36)

He didn’t just have compassion. He was moved with compassion.

His compassion, His arms reaching and heart swelling, caused Him to act. 

I find myself wondering how we can learn to be moved with compassion rather than to just watch with compassion?  How can we learn to act?

Maybe we could try to remember the times in our life when we have been in desperate need of compassion. 

Do you know what it is to ache? To yearn for something that is unobtainable?  Have you felt a weight so heavy you have not had strength enough to bear it?  Has sleepless night after sleepless night ever left you emotionally exhausted?  In the darkest moments of your life have you ever thought there might be nowhere to turn? 
If so, then your heart ––through your own personal experience–– has been taught. Because you have felt the aching, you can sense how to ease the suffering.  I am reminded of a line found in a familiar hymn, “As thy days may demand so thy succor shall be…” (How Firm a Foundation, hymn no. 85) 

Would you be willing to help succor someone whose day demands aching?  What if their day demands mourning?  Perhaps you know someone whose day demands a burden beyond their ability to bear. 

You have been there before ––what would have brought you comfort, peace, or strength?

Within the knowing and through the weeping let your arms stretch wide and your heart swell and then pray for inspiration as to what you might do.

Become moved with compassion. 

We may not know just what it is someone else is going through, but chances are we have felt many of the same emotions.  We become moved with compassion when we walk beside another and smooth the road ahead.  In that moment we are on the Lord’s errand.  Our hands become His.
For a moment ponder the people within your circle of influence. 

Is there one who comes to mind who could benefit from your compassion right now?

Could you weep with them, stretch your arms out to them, allow your heart to swell wide in their behalf?  Could you become moved with compassion?
If you were on the Lord’s errand, what would He have you do? 

Perhaps today you could ask Him.

Emily Freeman