Monday, July 21, 2014

Compassion & Autism: A Healing



My friend had a knee replacement done last month. Instead of being hopped up on pain meds just days after her operation, she asked me and another friend to stop by the hospital to give her communion. 

It sort of surprised me to see L sitting up in bed and ready for visitors when we arrived. I came with a somewhat serious problem on my mind...a situation that normally would consume me and would have dominated the conversation if I was even able to open up and talk about it. Once in a blue moon, overwhelming feelings of anxiety keep me from talking at all.

But L started talking about a problem her daughter was having. And my other friend shared her problems, and while they talked and I listened, it occurred to me that problems are everywhere. Up until that moment, I simply thought because I felt more socially inept than others, they didn't have to deal with the scrapes that often happen to me.

In short, these two ladies shared their burdens with me, and I, for the first time, did not dismiss their concerns because I thought mine were greater. You can't measure pain and suffering. And so, instead of getting lost in my own hurt, I bowed my head in prayer, and we took our worries to the Lord.

There's a fair amount of debate on empathy and autism, and I'm not saying I didn't have it before last month. But I experienced a shift in how I perceive other people's pain. The word "compassion" means to suffer with someone, and now...I get it. And I'm glad.

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