So whenever I take a spiritual gifts assessment, I score horrifyingly low in compassion. Like, based on my scores, you would most likely think that I spend my free time kicking puppies and laughing at those commercials to support third world children for just pennies a day. That is not at all the case, but I have struggled most of my life with being a compassionate person.
A lot of it is my personality. If you need someone to help motivate you or provide assistance to help you work to get your life on track, I'm your girl. No matter how bad you've screwed up, if you're ready to turn it around, by all means, give me a call. We'll make a plan. We'll work through it. If you want someone to listen to you complain, while you do nothing... don't call me. Ever. I find that totally infuriating. And for a long time I just. didn't. get. it. Why would people just want to talk about how bad something sucks when they can't or won't do anything about it?
Cue a trip to BK the other day. It was probably last Sunday because by the middle of Sundays Nate and I are both always way sleep deprived and ready for some nasty fast food. When I go to Burger King, I usually get a Whopper Jr. with fries and Zesty sauce. Now, if you're not a BK pro, you may not know the magic of the Zesty sauce. It's often offered if you sub onion rings for your fries, but it's actually most magical on fries. It's the most wondrous of fast food sauces - dare I say, better than Chick-Fil-A sauce. Nate and I went through the drive-thru and as we pulled back onto the road I said, "Oh no... I forgot to ask for Zesty sauce!"
Nate mumbled, "Oh no! I'm sorry! I think we have ketchup at home..."
And as much as it pains me to say this, something fantastic happened in that moment. It was like the heavens opened and angels sang - and I had flashbacks of fat people whining about their weight while eating cheeseburgers and poor people whining about their finances while on their smartphones and so on and so forth. I was like MY HUSBAND CARES ABOUT MY ZESTY SAUCE.
Now if he would have said, "Okay, let's go back." I would have been like, "No, are you stupid?"
Or if he was like, "You'll be fine." I would have felt neglected in my Zesty sauceless mourning.
Just because he acknowledge my saucelessness, I immediately felt better.
"Wow," I said. "That was really sweet."
"What was really sweet?" Nate asked me confusedly.
"Your concern over my Zesty sauce."
"What are you talking about?" He responded. Then he looked at me for another few seconds and said, "Sorry, I'm really tired and don't know what's going on."
So it wasn't the most sincere concern, but here's what I learned: right, wrong, or otherwise, sometimes people just need you to acknowledge their pain, concern, frustration, or anger. Not fix it. Not minimize it. Just acknowledge it. It might seem like just a superfluous issue to you... Zesty sauce or the like... but when we are willing to acknowledge how people are feeling without inserting our own thoughts or judgement about their situation, we provide them with comfort just in that.