by Mona Fuerstenau, Director of Ministry Partnerships at Bethesda Lutheran Communities
The word “compassion” is often misunderstood. What sets it apart from even the words used in its definition is the action component. Compassion is more than feelings or sympathy or empathy or consciousness. It’s the draw to do something! The movement to action.
Families living with disability are often on the receiving end of many of the feelings associated with compassion. They experience pity, sympathy, concern, and assumption of sorrow and suffering from others. Yet most of the families I have worked with over the past 20 years say that’s not what they want. They want others to actively be a part of their lives. They struggle the most with words without action, the “let us know if you need anything” comments. They long for genuine relationships. They long for those who move beyond pity or empathy to intentional relationships and being and doing life together with a person with disability.
Chances are very high that you know someone living with disability. The US census says nearly 1:5 Americans fall into that category. Research of that population indicates the two biggest issues they face are loneliness and isolation. That’s an opportunity to exercise compassion! Compassion includes being compelled to action. Here are a few actions steps you can take.
- Identify a family living with disability in your neighborhood, community, part of your church.
- Reach out to them. This season of sheltering safe at home is a perfect opportunity to mention your own sense of isolation and loneliness and ask if you can help each other through it.
- Find common interests and start the conversation! Do you both love movies? Gardening? Books? Classic cars? Art? Music? Sports? Most friendships bloom around shared interests.