To Show Yourself Compassion

Today I gave the homily at the chapel at my school. Below is what I said.

Today we are talking about compassion, something that has been taught to use since we were little. In preschool and kindergarten, we all learned The Golden Rule—Treat others how you want to be treated. In Matthew 22, Jesus gave this rule as well—Love your neighbor as yourself.

We are often told how small actions such as holding the door open for someone can make someone’s day. Although these smalls acts are what makes the day a little more tolerable after you’ve stayed up until midnight catching up on AP Lit reading or when you didn’t do as well as you thought on that Calc test, compassion is far more than that. Compassion calls us to love another person in that moment, to listen to what they are going through, and to walk along their path with them. Compassion calls us to set aside our judgments and expectations in order to simply love.

As important as it is to show compassion towards others, we can’t forget to show compassion towards ourselves. We are at a weird time in our life. All of us are trying to figure out what we like, where we want to go to college, and if we want to go to Chipotle or Chick-Fil-A for lunch. If you had asked me the start of my freshman year, I would have told you that I wanted to study Industrial Engineering at Northwestern University and definitely have Chick-Fil-A for lunch. As I’ve grown up, I’ve changed. Engineering is most likely not going to be in my future, I’m going to Kenyon College in Ohio, and Chipotle is clearly the better option.

It can be hard to give up plans that we had made, but as Jeremiah reminds us that God has a plan for us. “For I know the plants I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

When we start to realize that God is in control, it becomes easier to show ourselves compassion. We are not able to control every part of our lives and our lives won’t be perfect, but that’s okay. Whatever path you are on is the path you are supposed to be on at this moment. This doesn’t mean that you can’t change your path. In the words of Marina Keegan, “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.”

Showing yourself compassion means to accept where you are right now and not to judge what you are going through. When I was diagnosed with OCD my freshman year, it took me several months to accept what I was going through. I just wanted to be a normal high school student, but instead my OCD prevented me from living my life how I though it was supposed to be. I lost a lot of normalcy from my OCD; I couldn’t drive a car, spent most of my time counting letters in my head, and was petrified of offending someone. This was not how I thought my high school as going to be. Once I accepted that my high school years might not go as exactly as I planned, it made it easier to start to change and to regain my life back from the illness. I started to open up about what was happening, made several friends that also have OCD, and spoke at the International OCD Foundation Conference. None of these things were part of my high school plan either. When I decided to show myself compassion and embrace what I was going through, things started looking up. Whatever you might be happening in your life, show yourself compassion and embrace the path you are on.

Showing yourself compassion also means to encourage yourself to try something new and to make mistakes. I did not start to try new things until my junior year out of fear that I would not be good at them. I joined the track team and attempted to run hurdles, which ended terribly, and also joined the weightlifting team, which turned out much less terribly than track. I thought that I was too old to try something new since it was so late in my time here at Trinity. I imagine there are going to be more times in my life when I think I am actually too old to try something new. Maybe after I graduate from grad school I will want to go to art school. I hope that I will show myself compassion in order to try this later in life. I hope that you show yourself compassion as well when you want to try something new, no matter what age it may be or how little experience you have.

We weren’t placed on this earth to be perfect; we were given this life to love and explore. We must not only show compassion to the rest of God’s creation, but to ourselves as well.

to my normal followers: sorry for the lack of postings.  I don’t have any good excuses, so I’m not going to be making any.