Today, I reminded about showing compassion to those who may not “deserve” it. I made a dumb mistake, you see.
It’s the blisters that are reminding me. Or maybe the skin on my nose and shoulders that has turned the deep crimson hue of a good Merlot. I have a bad sunburn, and all I want to do for the moment is wrap up in soft sheets and whine about the pain. Maybe even moan a little. And eat chocolate.
What… You never heard that chocolate has healing properties?
I am nearly forty-four years of age. I know better. I’ve been a fair-skinned red-head all of my life, and this is not the first time I’ve been severely sunburned.
The other day, my Beloved and I took a day-trip to the beach and we only intended to stay for an hour or two.
But as if by some act of divine mercy, we found a spot on the shore that was nearly deserted (by at least twenty feet on either side) and the sky was a wide blue with nary a cloud to block the glorious rays of the sun! A breeze from the ocean blew gently and cool (but warm for October) against us, making us forget that…hey, there are no clouds to block the sun.
We had even remembered to put up the beach umbrella!
Not that we stayed under it for very long.
When we did get warm-ish sitting under the wide blue sky, we walked down to the water – holding hands. And although the ocean was a bit chilly at first, the initial “yikes!” gave way to a cooling ahhhhhhh until we were neck deep and free-floating.
On an October day, no less!
We swam until we were tired and then walked back to the beach chairs in the sun, enjoying the sensation of water evaporating off of our skin. Conversation, laughter, sunshine, water. And then again. And then again.
Until we – satiated and out of cold beverages – headed home.
And then, over the next few hours, our bodies turning burgundy, thought “Hmmm. Maybe we should have used sunblock.” We did think about it a few times.
But it’s OCTOBER, my mind protested stubbornly. As if one cannot possibly get sunburned in the fall, the way one cannot possibly wear white after Labor Day. My mind, which felt increasingly like an egg fried underneath my crimson scalp relented. Excuses, excuses…and then a painful consequence. And now the moaning.
You did this to yourself.
Wandering through Wal-Mart later on a quest for aloe lotion, I see the stares from people thinking, Well, she should know better. Or worse…..Tourist!
Judging is easy….the smug realization that whatever painful, blistering circumstance a person might be in – they brought it on themselves. I’m getting better at not judging, but sometimes it’s still a challenge. Because when we see homelessness, addiction, a pregnant teenager or even celebrities who struggle with consequences – sometimes our first thoughts are not of compassion:
You know, that could have been avoided.
Don’t you know better?
That was a dumb mistake.
And while all of these things are possibly true, the resulting pain is still pitiful. God may shake his head with frustration over us – the stubborn ones – but he still gathers us up in soft sheets of compassion. He expects us – as if by His divine mercy – to do the same. Even when one’s mistake is out there for all the world to see. No excuses necessary….just love.